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Chinese market poses great opportunities: Japanese film director Shunji Iwai

Updated: 11 03 , 2016 14:04
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TOKYO, Nov. 3  -- Japanese film director Shunji Iwai, enjoying fame across Asia for his hit films depicting youth and love, told Xinhua recently that he thinks Chinese market poses great opportunities and he is currently working on two films that involve cooperation with Chinese film industry.

He made the remarks at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival, during which he was presented as a representative of contemporary Japanese directors and five of his works were screened, including Fireworks, Love Letter, Swallowtail Butterfly, Vampire, and Rip Van Winkle's Bride.

Iwai considered Fireworks, the 1993 TV drama, as his best work for a period of time, which brought him critical praise and the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award for his portrayal of a group of children.

However, Iwai was surprised that another film Love Letter in 1995, made a great impact in Asian countries, especially in China and South Korea, though the script was written and the film shot within a rather short period of time.

"I realized that it was probably my mission to be a bridge between different cultures with my films," Iwai told Xinhua.

From Swallowtail Butterfly on, Chinese characters and factors began to make repeated appearances in Iwai's works. The film, both a commercial and critical success in 1996, told the story of a group of immigrants in search of hope and a better life in a fictitious city.

"I think the film tells the story of immigrants in Japan in a positive way...I have always been paying attention to the immigrant community, their sufferings and struggle," he said.

Iwai started to learn the Chinese language when Swallowtail Butterfly was being shot, and it later paid off. "It was my idea that the main character in the film Hana and Alice should say 'I love you' in Mandarin," he said, referring to his popular 2004 film.

Iwai said that he had always been feeling close to the Chinese culture, as his mother was born in China and he often heard stories about China from his mother when he was a little boy.

The friendly feeling to China also came from the fact that famous Chinese writer Lu Xun had been a student in Iwai's hometown Sendai in the 1900s and was very famous there, according to Iwai.

When talking about Vampire, a rather recent work that marked his English-language film debut, he said that it was also his first "overseas work" in the true sense and he hoped to create more works overseas, including in China.

"China has a huge film market, which poses a lot of opportunities," he said, adding that he is currently working on two films that involve cooperation with Chinese film industry.

"The storylines of the new films are still a secret, but yes, they involve cooperation with Chinese film industry," he said.

The 29th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), kicking off on Oct. 25, is to close on Thursday. The 10-day event, with some 200 films shown at theaters in the Japanese capital, was expected to attract tens of thousands of movie fans and viewers.

by Yang Ting, Yan Lei

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