Guest in Focus: Riho KUDO

LET ME HEAR IT BAREFOOT director Riho KUDO © PFF Partners


In the 2022 edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival’s NIPPON VISIONS section, we are presenting Riho KUDO’s film LET ME HEAR IT BAREFOOT.

Riho KUDO, born in Fukuoka in 1995, studied film at Kyoto University of the Arts. Her graduation film ORPHANS’ BLUES (2018) was invited to numerous Japanese film festivals and received various awards. Her second feature film LET ME HEAR IT BAREFOOT (2021 / NC ’22) was supported by a grant from the PIA Film Festival and was shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

We thank Riho KUDO for this interview.

Was there any particular experience that served as an inspiration for the storyline? How did you develop the idea for the film?

The last scene was the first thing that came to my mind, and simply put, I came up with the story in the form of working backwards. 

The part of faking the world through sounds during the play was an idea inspired by my own filmmaking. In film, there is a process called Foley, in which the sounds of things are re-recorded to match the footage that is taken, and one day I realized that this was a very peculiar and interesting act. For example if there is the image of a person walking in the prairie, the sound of the footsteps could actually be made by a Foley Artist stomping on a bundle of videotape. What we believe to be the sound of a thing is actually not, and this is also a lie that is not revealed to the audience.

I myself considered the motif of the lie as very cinematic, so I was convinced that something like Foley could be an important element of this story. When it merged with the theme of traveling, which I originally wanted to use, it became this kind of story.

Do the places depicted in the film have a personal meaning for you? 

I have never actually been to the places they travel to (or record the sound of) in the play. Or perhaps I should say, I have not personally experienced most foreign countries. However, I have always had a strong longing for traveling and the world.

This time, in coming up with this story, I researched all the landscapes of the world. All the places I wanted to show in the film were so beautiful and touching, it was unbelievable. For me, the landscape of other countries is really fascinating.

It can be said that the fake foreign countries the two travel to symbolize the yearning and hopes of Naomi, Maki, Midori, and myself. And one more thing, the Iguazú Falls that appear in the play also mean to be an homage to WONG Kar-Wai’s Film HAPPY TOGETHER.

(Nippon Connection 2022 – Nippon Visions: LET ME HEAR IT BAREFOOT by Riho KUDO © PFF Partners)

What was it like filming the fight-scenes? Was it hard to depict the mixture of violence and intimacy?

From the beginning, I envisioned a gradation of fighting in this film, in which joking around gradually becomes erotic, ecstatic, and finally violent, but since I am not an expert in martial arts and the like, when I was writing the script it inevitably became abstract and I had a hard time portraying this.
So, while reviewing LOVE BATTLES by Jacques Doillon, a film that had influenced me, I told the action director the theme of the fight and the emotions of the two men in each scene and was provided with a specific choreography.

It was my first experience to shoot a genuine action scene, so I was also nervous, but I think who struggled even more than me after all were the action director, who actually choreographed the fight and the actors performing it. The action director said it was very difficult to choreograph such a fight.

Do you have any favorite directors, and if so, is there a particular reason why they’re your favorite?

I am drawn to directors with a strong characteristic style that feels as if their works give off a scent, but I especially admire WONG Kar-Wai and Leos Carax. This is because each of them presents a unique view of the world that only they can capture.

When I saw their works and came in contact with this distorted romanticism and the artists’ poetic side, my heart was strongly shaken. I had the feeling that their own soul and true feelings itself were put into their films. Whenever I encounter such works, I feel like I can believe in this world in which they exist.

The creations of these directors will still always be a constant source of inspiration for me.

(Nippon Connection 2022 – Nippon Visions: LET ME HEAR IT BAREFOOT by Riho KUDO © PFF Partners)

Japan 2021, 127 Min
at the 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival
The complete program and tickets are available on the festival homepage.



















Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s