Guest in Focus: Ren SUDO

BACKLIGHT director Ren SUDO © 2021『逆光』FILM


In the 2022 edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival’s NIPPON VISIONS section, we are presenting Ren SUDO’s film BACKLIGHT.

Ren SUDO was born in Tokyo in 1996. While studying law at Keio University, he began working as a model and actor. He has been in a number of films and TV dramas since 2017, including LITTLE MISS PERIOD (2019 / NC ’20) and KAMATA PRELUDE (2020 / NC ’21). BACKLIGHT (2021 / NC ’22) is his directorial debut.

We thank Ren SUDO for this interview.

The story of BACKLIGHT takes place in Onomichi in the year of 1970. Why did you choose this particular setting?

I am an actor, and just before Covid-19, the first film that I played a main role in was screened at a film festival in Onomichi. My stay in Onomichi at that time was so pleasant that I extended my plan to stay one night and ended up staying two more. After that, just as I returned to Tokyo, the world was engulfed in an unprecedented pandemic and my daily life was lost under the state of emergency declaration. In the midst of all this, I wanted to go somewhere not here, sometime, not now. I think these irrepressible feelings made it possible for me to depict Onomichi in the midsummer of the 1970s, a time and people that had nothing to do with me.

(Nippon Connection 2022 – Nippon Visions: BACKLIGHT by Ren SUDO © 2021『逆光』FILM)

What was it like directing and acting as the protagonist at the same time? 

It was my first experience as a director, but since I am originally an actor, it was an easy way for me. However, I think the crew and actors around me were quite perplexed.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face while filming?

After all, it was my first time making a film so there was a lot to handle, but the biggest crisis was the 16-hour drive from Tokyo to Onomichi. My energy for shooting the film was almost completely taken away from me on that first day.

Which personal experiences, other films, or stories inspired you to film BACKLIGHT?

My roots are more in reading than in watching films, and I think I got quite a bit of inspiration from Japanese literature, such as Yukio MISHIMA, Junichiro TANIZAKI, and Haruki MURAKAMI.
As for films, I am also inspired by Trần Anh Hùng’s THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA and WONG Kar-Wai’s works.

(Nippon Connection 2022 – Nippon Visions: BACKLIGHT by Ren SUDO © 2021『逆光』FILM)

Japan 2021, 64 Min
at the 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival
The complete program and tickets are available on the festival homepage.
Check out the trailer here!










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