Meaning for ordinary lives

Updated 2017-05-05 11:00:48 China Daily
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Japanese film director Hirokazu Koreeda with Chinese critic Zhi An at a Beijing event.

Japanese film director Hirokazu Koreeda with Chinese critic Zhi An at a Beijing event.

Hirokazu Koreeda, who makes films that mainly focus on domestic relationships, was a big draw at the recent Beijing International Film Festival.

Japanese film director Hirokazu Koreeda was recently in the Chinese capital for the Beijing International Film Festival, at which eight of his films were shown.

Eager Chinese fans lapped up the offerings, and tickets for the movies including Our Little Sister, After the Storm and Still Walking, sold out online in a flash.

Hirokazu, who is often compared by film critics to Japanese director Yasujiro Otsu, makes films that mainly focus on domestic relationships - between mother and father, father and children, mother and children, husband and wife and sisters and brothers - by capturing ordinary life and presenting the rhythm of real life - slow, sometimes even boring, but filled with tension.

One of his films that was well received by Chinese critics is Still Walking, Hirokazu's most personal film that he did as tribute to his late mother.

The movie depicts a day in the life of the Yokoyamas. Here, family members gather for a commemorative ritual for their eldest son.

The director says he wanted to express the view that "there are so many 'too late' moments in one's life".

Seven years after his mother died, Hirokazu published a novel based on the script of the movie. Now the Chinese version of Still Walking is out.

Recently, on a beautiful spring evening, dozens of Chinese were waiting for him at the Kubrick Bookstore in Beijing's Moma.

Hirokazu, accompanied by assistants and a translator, walked in.

A reader, recognizing him, asked for his autograph, but was politely rebuffed.

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Hirokazu Koreeda's novel, Still Walking, is based on the script of the movie of the same title. Provided To China Daily

Hirokazu Koreeda's novel, Still Walking, is based on the script of the movie of the same title. Provided To China Daily

Hirokazu then stopped at a shelf and picked up three books that grabbed his attention, including one by Japanese writer Murakami Haruki and another about film director Hou Hsiao-hsien.

He took a look at the books and put them down.

Later, he tells fans: "I prefer walking to running. I like the feeling of walking, and also the change of views while walking, which is why I gave the film the title Still Walking."

So far, Hirokazu has published three books, including Still Walking.

He originally wanted to become a novelist and studied at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences at Waseda University.

In his 20s, he worked at a TV station and wrote novels in his free time.

When one of his works won a 200,000 yen (,773) award, he wanted to quit his job to become a professional writer, but his mother dissuaded him.

Later, when he made After the Storm, he featured this experience in the film - an unsuccessful writer, who won a literary award when he was young.

"I am happy to write books, but writing is very difficult. After trying both writing and filming, maybe making films is what I am supposed to do," he says.

But he says the best way for him is to write a novel when he is filming the story.

"By doing that you get the advantage of different forms of expression," he says.

For instance, when he filmed the male role of Ryota in Still Walking, there were many things that the actor could not portray.

"So I tried to present them using the lens, but not always from Ryota's perspective. Sometimes, I did this from the perspective of the family's house and sometimes through the eyes of the late son," he says.

"In the novels, I express my feelings directly. But in the movies, I depict feelings indirectly. When describing pain or sadness, I want to jump out of the pain and sadness to create something that can make people laugh," he says.

Chinese critic Zhi An says Hirokazu cares about ordinary people's lives in his novels and films.

"Although such lives may not necessarily be beautiful and may be full of contradictions, hustle and bustle, and many cruel things, these are real lives."

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