Nanako HIROSE, director of BOOK-PAPER-SCISSORS, was born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1987 and studied at Musashino Art University. She has been working for Hirokazu KOREEDA’s production company Bunbuku since 2011, starting out as an assistant on his films, as well as an assistant director to Miwa NISHIKAWA. In 2019, she gave her debut as a director with the feature film HIS LOST NAME, which received international attention. 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?
My late father was a book designer. When I was grown up I took an interest in my father’s work. In his bookshelf I found books written by Mr. Kikuchi. I read them and was deeply impressed by his spirit of craftsmanship and his attention to the tactile feel of things in his hands. I noticed the obvious: books are paper, books are things.
How did the current crisis impact your work as a filmmaker?
The movie was just playing in theaters when one after the other had to close down. My talk events across the country were cancelled. The situation threatens the existence of mini theaters (small independent movie theaters) and small distributors much more than my own daily life. Filming itself is impossible, so the situation for freelancers is extremely tough right now. We have to show solidarity across the areas, and figure out how we can make use of online options and help save theaters and distributors. As a filmmaker, I’m still at a loss about what I must portray in my movies after Corona.
What are some challenges women especially are faced with in the world of Japanese filmmaking?
When working in movie productions, balancing family and work is highly difficult. In Japan, the majority of female staff in this industry has to quit their job after getting married. We need to reconsider this working environment where also the physical strain makes it nearly impossible to keep up in the long term. As for directing, I can say that we need to free ourselves from the idea of labelling – “because she’s a woman” – and from the image of women which we are required to deliver. In Japan, we are still behind on this.