Irvine CA: Three Films by Kawase Naomi

Jonathan M. Hall jmhall
Wed Feb 9 01:44:24 EST 2005

Part Three:  Japanese Documentary Filmmakers
UC Irvine, HIB 100 - Thursday, February 10, 2005

7PM     EMBRACING (Ni Tsutsumarete)

The conclusion of our Japanese Documentary Filmmakers Series will feature
Director Kawase Naomi.  After graduating from the Osaka School of
Photography in 1989, Kawase Naomi worked as a lecturer at the school for
four years.  Her short films, EMBRACING & KATATSUMORI won numerous awards
and acclaim for the director.  In 1997 her first feature film, SUZAKU, won
awards at the Rotterdam and Singapore Film Festivals, and earned her the
Camera D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

After the breakup of her parents, Kawase Naomi was raised by her
grandparents, who actively discouraged any attempts by her to meet her
biological father.  In EMBRACING, Kawase records the search for her father.
Along the way she addresses questions of identity and happiness in images
and sequences which often remain as fragmented, tentative, and enigmatic as
the few stories which have made up her own life story so far.

KATATSUMORI, which translates as snail, is the first of three films Kawase
Naomi has dedicated to her grandmother.  As a chronicle of their
relationship this film documents the time spent by the grandmother in her
garden.  With her syncopated style, Kawase films gestures which are repeated
year after year;  everything from the sowing of the seeds to the picking of
the vegetables.  It is in this cyclical pattern that the director and
subject try to find some sense of proportion, of the measure of their own

EMBRACING (NI TSUTSUMARETE) - 1992, Japan, 40 minutes, 16mm, in Japanese
with English subtitles
KATATSUMORI - 1994, Japan, 40 minutes, 16mm, in Japanese with English


Set in her native Nara, Kawase's feature debut SUZAKU concerns the struggles
of a formerly thriving timber community that has come to believe that a
government funded railroad project will breathe new life into the town.  At
the center of the film is a family whose gradual disintegration reflects the
inability of the town to find its place in a rapidly changing world.  True
to her documentary roots, Kawase immerses herself in the town, casting local
residents as characters in the film, achieving a beautifully rendered sense
of place. 

SUZAKU - 1997, Japan, 40 minutes, 16mm, in Japanese with English subtitles

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