Hirokazu Kore-eda, on January 7, 2019, in Palm Springs, California.Vivien Killilea / EL PAÍS
Just two years ago, the Cannes film festival, which today would have closed its 73rd edition, surrendered to the Japanese Hirokazu Kore-eda (Tokyo, 57 years old) and his A Family Affair, Palme d’Or thanks to his talent for Throughout his career, subtly portray the emotional seismic movements of families. From his hometown, where the pandemic is confined with his wife and 12-year-old daughter, the filmmaker, one of the creators who combines success with critics and the public and the respect of fellow professionals such as Steven Spielberg, one Of his biggest fans, he remembers that day: “I enjoyed the party very late after the ceremony. When I approached to thank the jurors, its president, Cate Blanchett, told me how she had been impressed by Andô Sakura’s performance in the film. Cate imitating Andô in the crying sequence… I still remember it, it was a fabulous night ”.
Kore-eda replied to the interview via email this week. Her responses in Japanese were translated into English by an assistant at the powerful producer and distributor Gaga, the company that supports the cinema of the fourth author in his country to win the Palme d’Or, after Teinosuke Kinugasa, Akira Kurosawa and Shohei Imamura, who obtained twice.
Question. What are you doing these days?
Answer. I watch movies. Unfortunately, not in rooms but at home.
P. What kind of movies?
R. During March and April I was watching with my daughter daily the classics that excited me with her age: The Planet of the Apes, Paper Moon, The Godfather and others like it. Solo in May I’m going back to review Hollywood classics, such as those directed by Wiliam Wyler and George Cukor.
P. How do you personally feel?
R. As if I had returned to my school days. There’s no use getting mad, so I gather my strength and think about how movies will or won’t transform after the pandemic.
P. Is it possible that confinement by the coronavirus changes our way of consuming cinema?
R. It is true that even I am watching audiovisual products on platforms much more than before the covid-19. It is happening all over the world, and we need to think more about what movies and the cinematic experiences they provide us.
P. Are we heading to a more paranoid world?
R. Can be. And if I reflect it in future films, I would like to do it not directly but metaphorically, as in Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Robbers, which I have recently recovered. Come on, in the style of what I did in Air Doll.
P. Air Doll may be a movie with connections to the current situation.
R. I do not have it so clear. The fact that a body, that of an inflatable doll, experiences ecstasy when receiving within it the breath of its loved one ignores the social distance that today would not allow it.
P. Are art and culture necessary during the pandemic?
R. Of course. Titanic is one of the movies that I have seen these weeks with my daughter. Remember, for example, the sequence in which the orchestra continues to play as the ocean liner sinks. I am moved, as much as the attitude of the captain who decides to stay on the ship.
P. Most of his films talk about family. How will family relationships change after covid-19?
R. The family is the smallest of the communities. The bond between families who can trust each other or their community will become more tenuous and isolation will increase.
P. Are you optimistic?
R. I think so.
P. Do you find reasons to be scared of the future?
R. The word scared doesn’t fit me. But this can be decisive for the world, society and human beings. So I try not to get carried away but to be attentive to see where the tide takes us.
P. We may need to change our political and social system.
R. What if the human being is the virus of planet Earth? What if it’s been an emergency you’ve been waiting for a long time? I wonder those things looking at the most beautiful sky I have ever seen thanks to the least movement of people.
P. How has the response to covid-19 been in Japan? And your government? You always claim that the Japanese are masters of haggling over conflicts.
R. Japanese are said to be good at maintaining smooth relationships, avoiding arguments. The bad side is that the social pressure that does not allow you to be different from the rest of the people is very strong in my country. As two old proverbs say: “If you cannot overcome them, join them” and “Whoever excels will be punished.”
P. Will the hugs and emotions return? In his films, contrary to what is usual in his culture, there are many hugs … and these days we have to maintain social distance.
R. I’m not sure there are many hugs in my movies. European films will certainly be affected! In Japan it will leave more mark on our internal psychological mechanisms.
P. In his cinema, emotional wounds are quickly healed thanks to the humanity of his characters. Is that possible in that situation we live in?
R. Although I’m not sure if it happens quickly, interaction with others is required to heal those wounds. Now, I don’t know how to tell him if that’s only with humans. It can be with dead people, or with plants.