The Japanese film Shoplifters — which received critical praise for its complex characters and heart-wrenching narrative — won the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Last August, Waseda University was able to secure a special interview with Hirokazu Kore-eda, the university alumnus and professor who wrote, directed, and edited Shoplifters himself.
Find out what the award-winning director has to say about finding his true passion in film-making and creating films that people from all over the world will empathize with in this article.
Unexpectedly finding his true passion
Hirokazu Kore-eda initially enrolled in the university’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences with the goal of becoming a writer. However, he realized during his undergraduate years that getting a degree would not be enough to get him to where he wanted to go. It was during this period that Kore-eda unexpectedly found his true passion while skipping his morning classes.
“There were many cinemas, such as the ACT Mini Theater, at Takadanobaba in the past. When I know I could not make it to the morning classes in the first period, I’d end up watching movies the whole day in one of the movie theaters. Then one day, it just occurred to me that maybe what I really wanted to do in the future was to make films.”
After finally realizing what he wanted to pursue, Kore-eda started taking classes in film studies. He learned much from Professor Kenji Iwamoto, who just so happened to be the translator of the autobiography for one of Kore-eda’s favorite directors at the time: Federico Fellini.
On creating films that make an impact overseas
Although his films have caught the attention of audiences overseas, the interview with Hirokazu Kore-eda reveals that he never really thought about appealing to an international audience while he was creating them.
“When making a film, I think it’s important to ask the question whether you can empathize or establish a connection with the plot and people in it. If you can’t, it is very unlikely that the viewers would be able to. It’s not about how local or global the theme is, it’s about the depth of the film.”