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Hey all, I had the great pleasure earlier this year of speaking to director Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose amazing Nobody Knows {2004} made me an instant fan.  Kore-eda talked about Still Walking, his latest examination of family bonds and also mentioned his upcoming fantasy film, Air Doll, starring Linda Linda Lindaís amazing Bae Doo-na.

Dig it!


Still Walking

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda


The Lady Miz Diva:  What is the story behind Still Walking?

Hirokazu Kore-eda:  I wrote this script after my motherís death.  About two years prior to her death, she was hospitalised because of a brain aneurysm.  Up until that point, I used my work as an excuse, but I really left her alone and didnít take care of my mother.  Just like the main character in the film, I always thought I could always go home, I can always be with her, but you never really do. Itís a common occurrence with children.  Or maybe you just go home for New Yearís, for one day.  Thatís about the level of relationship you might have with your parents.  When she was ill and I would go and visit her in the hospital for two years, I would take notes on the conversations I had with her.  For example, even though she was the one who was hospitalised, Iíd walk in and she would be lying in her bed and sheíd ask me about my cavities and be worried about me.  These notes I took were the starting point for the script.


LMD:  The mother is the most compelling character in the film to me.  We first see her as a very typical housewife and sheís very funny and sarcastic, then she reveals a scary and sadistic side, and last she has a very hopeful moment in the butterfly scene.  Was it difficult to make her a rounded character with a sympathetic arc?

HK:  It was very important for me to portray the parts of the motherís character that from the sonís perspective might be very difficult to understand; the darker parts and of course, the parts where sheís cold to others.  But it wasnít just about creating a well-rounded, three-dimensional character:  I think the thing that must be avoided by a son after his mother dies is to make a movie thatís an homage to her, that shows only her good parts.  You end up with a sad and kind film.  I think thatís a thing that must be avoided.  I really wanted to be faithful with all parts of my motherís character and treat them with equal deference.


LMD:  Can you talk about the family dynamics that occurred to you that helped you create Still Walking?

HK:  For me, what I felt is when daughters marry and become mothers themselves; their relationship with their own mother becomes that of two mothers.  In a way, they become equals and I think they actually become closer as it becomes two mothers instead of just mother and daughter.  Thatís what happened between my sister and my mother.  But between sons and fathers, I donít think thatís what really happens and they always in a way remain rivals and thatís always the person that you always want to look the best in front of despite everything else.  Thatís a separation thatís never really overcome between sons and fathers.  Thatís the kind of parent-child relationship I wanted to show in my film.


LMD:  You have such a brilliant cast.  As the filmís writer, as well as the director, do you allow aspects of the film to change based on the actorsí interpretations?

HK:  Thereís basically no improvisation, actually, in this movie.  However, as weíre in the process where weíre doing table work and reading the script with the actors and hearing the lines come out of the actorsí bodies, we did do work to revise some of the lines so they would flow more naturally from that person and sound more like itís that person speaking.  But all that happens before we get on location, before we start shooting.  Thatís something I always do in the process of making my films, but at the point weíre shooting, itís quite tightly finished.


LMD:  Your latest project, Air Doll, stars one of my favourite actresses, Bae Doo-na.  It looks very different from Still Walking.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

HK:  In Japan, itís going to be released in the fall, but as far as overseas release thatís not been determined yet.  The premise of the story is you have a blow-up doll who develop feelings and learns language and falls in love and starts developing a soul and becomes more and more human until she becomes human and thatís who Bae Doo-na portrays.  So, in a way, the premise is totally fantastical, but the core of the film is about what is humanity and what does it mean to have a heart, what does it mean to have a soul? So, these are the questions that the film actually gets at.



~ The Lady Miz Diva

April 29th, 2009


Click here for our review of Kore-eda's Still Walking



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Exclusive Photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of IFC Films






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