Arts & Entertainment

Rikiya Imaizumi, the new promise of Japanese cinema

By Edurne Morillo

Tokyo, Jan 3 (EFE).- Filmmaker Rikiya Imaizumi has directed close to 20 feature films by the age of 41, making him one of the most popular young directors of Japan, an achievement that led him to receive the Audience Award at the latest edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF).

“I don’t think my films are only for the domestic market and I also don’t think about the international market to not include details about the Japanese society,” the director told EFE during an interview on the occasion of the premiere of his film “By the Window” (2022) in Japan.

The movie follows the story of Shigemi (played by musician and actor Goro Inagaki), a writer who one day discovers that his wife is cheating on him, but realizes that this does not cause any turmoil in him.

“This movie is not about the emotions that everybody can relate with, but about a very personal problem. Today we talk a lot about empathy and I believe that instead of writing something that everybody can understand, I wanted to talk about something very personal,” the director said.

Complex characters, emotions and relationships are classic components of Imaizumi’s films, as he does not shy away from putting the audience in an uncomfortable position and making them contemplate what they would do in place of the protagonist.

“When I went to film festivals, irrespective of age or nationality, people came and told me they had understood the film. People of any generation can relate to it,” Imaizumi added.

Born in 1981, Imaizumi released his first movie “A film of TAMA” in 2010. In 2019, his film was selected to be a part of the 31st edition of the TIFF.

Whereas this year, at the 35th edition of the film festival, he won the Audience Award for “By the Window,” marking a long journey of recognition in his field.

Imaizumi has worked on many successful films, including “Just Only Love” (2018) and “Little Nights, Little Love” (2019), produced for Netflix, which considers Imaizumi part of the next generation of movie makers in Japan.

His latest feature film, “Call me Chihiro,” will hit the streaming platform on Feb.23 this year, reasserting Imaizumi’s place in Japanese cinema.

The film follows the stories of a former sex worker who works at a small grocery store, a girl who wants to find her mother, a teenager who can not voice her thoughts and a homeless man of few words.

The filmmaker is also conscious of the interest for Asian movies at international platforms, and the recognition that Japanese cinema has been receiving in places such as Europe.

The most recent edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival awarded the Silver Shell for Best Director to Genki Kawamura for “A Hundred Flowers” (2022).

“Directors like Hirokazu Kore-eda and Koji Fukada are very famous at the international level and I believe this is one of the advantages of Japanese cinema, everything can work,” Imaizumi said, adding that formats for different people are produced in Japan, from big budget movies for the domestic market to love stories or animated films for young people.

“Earlier we used to have a system where you would learn from much older directors, but now there is an increase in ‘indie’ films and new directors that make films the way they want to,” he said. EFE


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