Naomi Kawase is one of two ‘In Focus’ directors at the Open City Documentary Festival 2019. She will be present at the London-based festival where she will take part in screenings of her works by introducing them as well as participating in a Q&A and an extended talk on September 8th and 9th.
The festival strand “Naomi Kawase:
In Focus” has been put together with the help of the Japan Foundation to
give audiences a rare chance to see Kawase’s early films, personal
documentaries recorded in Super 8 and 16mm that dealt with the complex well of
emotions stemming from her abandonment by her parents. These emotions manifest
themselves in a string of experimental works where she maps out a search for
her identity by looking for her father and recording snippets of life with her
adoptive mother, her great aunt Uno Kawase. They form subjects for Kawase’s
explorations of themes such as family ties and inter-generational
relationships, themes that would resurface in her more famous fiction
Naomi Kawase is a native of Nara and made
history with her first fiction feature Suzaku (1997)
with which she became the youngest filmmaker to receive the Caméra d’Or at the
1997 Cannes Film Festival before going on to win the festival’s Grand Prix
prize ten years later with the Nara-set The Mourning Forest (2007). Since then, she has made other
critically acclaimed works such as Sweet Bean (2015) and Radiance
(2017) and went on to found the Nara International Film Festival.
With the Open City Documentary Festival,
audiences will have the rare opportunity to see some of the early films that
helped make Naomi Kawase a major presence in world cinema. Here are the details
from the festival itself:
+ Sky, Wind, Fire, Water, Earth + Q&A
In these two deeply personal films, Naomi
Kawase reflects on her relationship with her father, absent throughout her
childhood. Embracing (1992) revolves
around Naomi’s search for her father despite her adoptive mother’s
discouragement and her own doubts about what she might find. Combining
nostalgic home movies and handheld Super 8mm footage of nature, Kawase weaves
together an achingly beautiful search for identity and the true meaning of
family. Sky, Wind, Fire, Water, Earth
(2001) chronicles Naomi’s reaction to her father’s death a decade later,
drawing lifelong connections between her original search, her childhood with
her adoptive parents and her unfulfilled longing for a relationship with her
by a Q&A with director Naomi Kawase.
Sunday September 8th, 1:30pm
at Regent Street Cinema. Tickets here.
+ See Heaven + Chiri + Intro
This triptych of moving tributes from
Naomi Kawase creates an affectionate portrait of her bond with her great-aunt
who adopted and raised her. Capturing her lovingly with close up Super 8mm
photography, Katatsumori (1994)
introduces us to Uno Kawase as she enters her eighties. A recurrent figure in
all of Kawase’s personal documentaries, Uno remains kind, good-humoured and
devoted to her adoptive daughter, and See
Heaven (1995) offers an intimate, experimental collage of images dedicated
to the playful but tender relationship between the two. In Chiri (2012), we witness Uno’s daily routine as she nears her final
days and Kawase grapples with coming to terms with her great-aunt’s passing.
Naomi Kawase will be present to introduce the screening.
Sunday September 8th, 4:00pm
at Regent Street Cinema. Tickets here.
+ Extended Conversation
About to give birth to her own child,
Naomi Kawase turns her camera back on to her adoptive mother and great-aunt in
this riveting examination of family, motherhood and the female body. An
intensely intimate and candid film, Birth/Mother
(2006) captures images of her great-aunt’s ageing body while Kawase reflects on
her own journey to becoming a mother. The film offers a more complex portrayal
of the relationship between the two women than Kawase’s earlier shorts, but the
connection between them remains undeniable.
Kawase will be present after the screening for an extended in-conversation
Monday September 9th, 6:30pm
at Curzon Soho. Tickets here.