A regular presence at the Cannes Film Festival, Naomi Kawase is the special guest of Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest which will take place between October 23rd – November 1st this year. She will be holding a masterclass live via Zoom, projected on the silver screen, where she’ll be talking about her process and the way in which she sees the cinematographic world.

„Cinema is a way to stop forgetting, a beginning of change, a joy.” – Naomi Kawase

The sense of loss and fear of death are recurring themes in the works of the Japanese auteur, whose first foray into cinema constituted handheld filmed images of the woman who raised her. The image would slow down, concentrating on daily objects, then the camera would tilt upwards to the dancing rays of overexposed light. These stylistic choices already projected the young filmmaker’s ambition of searching for eternity, love and hope. She grew up without knowing her parents and was conscious that the woman who had raised her, and whom she loved dearly, was close to death. 30 years later, Naomi Kawase is still fascinated by the way in which film has the ability to bring together the past and the future, documenting moments which, otherwise, would be forever lost. I gained much knowledge through experience. But, for a creator, it’s dangerous to start thinking they’re always right. You need to create something new constantly. You have to always be hungry,” declared Kawase in an interview for the Associated Press. You have to always be capable of capturing what’s right under your nose, things that could be more fantastic than that which you already have.”

As an auteur, Naomi Kawase made herself known in Cannes in 1997, when she became the youngest director to receive the Camera d’Or for her feature debut Suzaku. In 2007, she won the Grand Prix for The Mourning Forest and returned in 2011 with Hanezu, in the Official Selection, and Still the Water in 2014. In 2015, she participated in Un Certain Regard with Sweet Bean and in 2016, she was named President of the Cinéfondation jury, after having been on the Official Jury of the festival in 2013.

One of the most interesting characteristics of Kawase’s style is that she is one of the few directors to shoot her films chronologically, according to script. Things change all the time,” said Kawase, I make plans for the following day, but it happens that I wake up with other ideas.” The difference in approach is evident. In her films, time seems to pass by lazily and uncertainly, creating a breathtaking, almost frightening, reality.

Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest invites you to delve into this fascinating universe and to discover one of the most intriguing and nonconformist modern auteurs, thanks to a portrait painted by three of her films.

Still the Water is set on the Japanese island of Anami, where traditions related to nature are eternal. In this film,Kawase delivers a striking meditation on what are clearly deeply personal themes,” according to Screen Daily. The Guardian stated that Still The Water has an idealism and tranquility”. Kawase’s brand of serenity and her generosity of spirit remain the principal qualities with which are pervasive in her works.

In Sweet Bean, a baker’s business gathers speed when he hires an excentric 76-year-old woman, specialised in making dorayaki pancakes. Sweet Bean vibrates with humanity and concentrates on characters which are not usually presented on the screen. It’s possible to be lucid and sentimental … and in this devastatingly beautiful film, Kawase achieves exactly that,” exclaimed One Room with a View.

True Mothers, the director’s newest film, will be screened in premiere at the 11th edition of Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest, following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and its screening in the selection at San Sebastian. Audiences in Bucharest will be among the first in the world to see the film – adapted from the novel of the same name published in 2015 and written by Mizuki Tsujimura. The film’s rich stylistic texture, typical of the director’s unique vision, combines the sensuality of the cinematic process with the palpable and vibrant of the narrative.

True Mothers centres around two strong main characters “who make a persuasive case that they are worth knowing” (Screen Daily): Satoko, the adopted mother and Hikari, the young and desperate biological mother who doesn’t want to disappear from her son’s life. Kawase, who, in turn, has an adopted son of her own, offers a new perspective around the notion of child adoption in her film, weaving different narrative threads and styles, from moral drama to adolescent romance – from social exposure to thriller – in an emotional, at times unsettling, cinematic experience.

To complete the triptych, the director will be in dialogue with the festival audience via a Q&A following the screening of True Mothers and has been given a carte blanche to choose a Japanese title to be included in the Focus Japan section at Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest, which she will be introducing. Kawase, who is also the Executive Director of the Nara International Film Festival in Japan will be holding a masterclass, speaking to the audience about her films and her artistic process; an introduction into the socio-cultural context which she creates.

The festival program, detailed film presentations and ticketing information will be available on the festival website soon, at www.filmedefestival.ro

Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest is presented by Orange Romania, traditional partner of the event.
With the support of: Catena, Apa Nova, Groupama Insurance
Inspired by: UniCredit Bank
The 11th edition of Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest is organized by the Cinemascop Association and
Voodoo Films in partnership with the French Embassy and the French Institute of Romania
Project co-financed by: Administration of the National Cultural Fund
Cultural project financed by: the Romanian National Center for Cinematography