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Kirin Kiki and director Masato Harada are at odds over casting! The director’s beloved gets pulled into the fray


©2015 TIFF

Based on Hisashi Inoue’s period novel, “Tokeiji Hana Dayori”, historical human drama KAKEKOMI was screened on October 25 as part of the ongoing 28th Tokyo International Film Festival’s Japan Now section. Actress Kirin Kiki joined director Masato Harada for a teach-in at Shinjuku Piccadilly.

Set at Tokeiji Temple, a convent authorized by the Edo shogunate as a place where women can go in search of divorce, the film tells the story of the women who flee to the temple, and the man who tries to help them. Yo Oizumi takes on the role of protagonist Shinjiro, while actresses Erika Toda and Hikari Mitsushima play women fleeing from their husbands. This was director Harada’s first attempt at a period drama. “I tried not to forget about the good parts of Japanese period films,” he said before elaborating, “For example, Hikari Mitsushima as the character O-Gin shows us the way in which a sophisticated geisha uses her body. For this, I did research by watching actresses like Fujiko Yamamoto and Michiyo Kogure in Daiei’s historical dramas.” He continued with another example. “There are period films with great rhythm, like Yuzo Kawashima’s Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate,” he said with enthusiasm, “I wanted to continue a legacy like that.”

In the dialogue and settings of the film, historic imagery like nuanced language and the Japanese culture of yore appear frequently. Harada said that, despite using this type of imagery, younger audiences won’t feel alienated by the film. “There was a lot of languages that, at first, even I didn’t understand. But I gradually picked them up, the reason being the rhythm of the words.” he explained. Behind the easiness of the dialogue, “the great rhythm of Edokko Tokyoites, and the impression their words have, was essential.”

Kiki listened intently to the words of the director, then chimed in with praise. “It’s dialogue that makes full use of the special charming appeal that the Japanese language has, and the speed of the words. And then the images. All of it is splendid.” But on the topic of casting, Harada suddenly revealed, “There were some things that Kiki and I disagreed upon, and every day she lectured me about it.” Kiki said that the character Hoshuni was initially cast as an old woman. Harada worried, “Can this role really be mastered in just three months of training?” He wanted to assign the part to a younger actress, but Kiki just couldn’t agree with it. “Of course, it’s not that the actress who had the part was bad. She was beautiful, but then we put her in nun’s robes and she was hardly recognizable. I thought it was a waste.”

Just before the end of the event, Kiki suddenly stood up and said, “What kind of person do you think this wonderful director thinks is beautiful?” She turned around to the audience and took the hand of a woman in the front row. “This is the director’s wife!” The audience broke out into a warm applause for the embarrassed director and his wife Mizuho.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)