Naomi Kawase

Naomi Kawase

Naomi Kawase at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
Born (1969-05-30) May 30, 1969
Nara, Japan
Other names Naomi Sento
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, editor
Years active 1992–present
Spouse(s) Takenori Sento (October 1997 – March 2000) (divorced)

Naomi Kawase (河瀨直美 Kawase Naomi, born May 30, 1969) is a Japanese film director. She was also known as Naomi Sento (仙頭直美 Sentō Naomi), with her then-husband's surname. Many of her works have been documentaries, including Embracing, about her search for the father who abandoned her as a child, and Katatsumori, about the grandmother who raised her.

Early life

Growing up in the rural region of Nara, Kawase's parents split early on in her childhood leaving her to be raised by her great-aunt, with whom she held a combative, yet loving, relationship. The youth she spent in Nara has had a drastic effect on her career. Many of her first forays into filmmaking were autobiographical, inspired heavily by the rural landscape.[1] She originally attended the Osaka School of Photography to study television production and later became interested in film, deciding to switch her focus.[2]


After graduating in 1989 from the Osaka School of Photography (Ōsaka Shashin Senmon Gakkō) (now Visual Arts College Osaka), where she was a student of Shunji Dodo,[3][4] she spent an additional four years there as a lecturer before releasing Embracing. Employing her interest in autobiography, most of her first short films focus on her turbulent family history, including her abandonment and her father's death.[5] She became the youngest winner of the la Caméra d'Or award (best new director) at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for her first 35mm film, Suzaku. She novelized her films Suzaku and Firefly.

In 2006, she released the forty-minute documentary Tarachime, which she prefers to be screened before her film from the following year. Tarachime revisits Kawase's relationship with her great-aunt, tackling very personal themes such as her aunt's growing dementia.[5]

Kawase at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2010

Kawase completed production on her fourth full-length film The Mourning Forest (Mogari no Mori), which premièred in June 2007 in her hometown Nara and went on to win the Grand Prix at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.[6]

Her 2011 film Hanezu premiered In Competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.[7][8] In 2013 she was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[9]

Her 2014 film Still the Water was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[10] Her 2015 film Sweet Bean was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[11]

In April 2016 she was announced as the President of the Jury for the Cinéfondation and short films section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[12]

Styles and themes

Kawase's work is heavily concerned with the distorted space between fiction and non-fiction that has occurred within the state of modern Japanese society, approaching "fiction with a documentarian's gaze."[13] She employs this documentary-realism to focus on individuals of lesser cultural status, challenging prevailing representations of women within the male-dominated Japanese film industry.[1] This theme is also connected to her own personal reflections on contemporary issues in the current climate of economic depression such as the declining birthrate, alienation, and the collapse of traditional family structures.[14]

She frequently shoots on location with amateur actors.[1]


Kawase's work was originally produced in various media: 8mm film, 16mm film, 35mm film, and video.[15]


This is a list of some of her awards:[16]


  1. 1 2 3 Karatsu 2009, p. 168.
  2. "Kawase Naomi". Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. Japan. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  3. "Haha", Catalog (PDF), Match & Co, retrieved 2010-08-24.
  4. continuity voice (21 May 2010), Transcription (in Japanese), MBS, retrieved 2010-08-25.
  5. 1 2 "An interview with Naomi Kawase, director of "The Mourning Forest"". Meniscus Magazine. USA. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  6. "The Mourning Forest". Festival de Cannes. France. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
  7. "Official Selection". Festival de Cannes. France. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  8. "Cannes film festival 2011: The full lineup". The Guardian. UK. 2011-04-14. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  9. Saperstein, Pat (23 April 2013). "Nicole Kidman, Christopher Waltz, Ang Lee Among Cannes Jury Members". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  10. "2014 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  11. "Complement to the Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  12. "The Short Films and Cinéfondation Jury 2016". Cannes Film Festival. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  13. Yamane 2002.
  14. Karatsu 2009, p. 167.
  15. Works, KAWASE Naomi.
  16. Profile, KAWASE Naomi.
  17. "La France récompense la réalisatrice japonaise Naomi Kawase". (in French). Retrieved 7 January 2015.


External links

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