Chihiro AMANO, director of MRS. NOISY, was born in Aichi Prefecture in 1982. After working at an office for five years, she turned to film and directed several short films that were screened at PIA Film Festival and at Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, among others. Her feature film debut was the manga adaptation NO TOUCHING AT ALL (2014). MRS. NOISY (2019 / NC ’20) premiered at the 2019 edition of the Japanese Cinema Splash section at Tokyo International Film Festival. We are very glad she took the time to answer our questions for our Guest in Focus series.
Where did you get the idea for your latest film?
I was inspired by the so called “Noisy Lady Case” in Nara, Japan about 15 years ago. A housewife who furiously swears at her neighbor while hitting a futon loudly was made fun of and reported on TV and became somewhat of a hot topic. However, later on, people started defending her on the internet, saying that she was actually the victim in the situation or “The neighbors were harassing her first”. This led to widespread criticism of the stations that had initially made fun of her and some people started celebrating her like a misunderstood or tragic heroine.
A dispute can look completely different depending on the position where one stands. Nevertheless, outsiders come and make a fuss with their own selfish sense of justice, and make the problem even bigger. I wanted to express this universal irony of quarrels.
What was the biggest challenge while making your latest film?
The biggest challenge for me was creating this movie while also being a parent. In 2014, I was busy handling many projects, including directing two films during my pregnancy. But in 2015, after giving birth, not a single opportunity to make a movie came up. Of course, the lack of one’s own ability is a major cause, but it’s hard to think of that alone. I felt that if I were a man the situation would have been completely different, and I was shocked by the invisible wall that still remains. This is a problem not only in the movie industry but in Japanese society as a whole. I wanted to resist. My longing and persistency finally paid off after I finally completed the film after three and a half years. It was a tough road.
What are some challenges women especially are faced with in the world of Japanese filmmaking?
As I mentioned in the answer above, the Japanese film industry is still male dominated and macho oriented. The number of female directors is increasing little by little, but more than 90% of all directors are men, and there are very few female crew members who are able to balance work and family. I think this is an abnormal situation. There is no single cause but many factors, such as the industry being old-fashioned, laws and systems, and gender issues in society. It is simply not possible to meet at 5 o’clock in the morning at the film set every day and continue until midnight while raising children. However, regardless in which industry, I think it’s the epoch-making ideas of flexible and tough women that make this world an interesting place. I want to continue my efforts to change the situation little by little.