Cannes winner, Shoplifters, showcases Japan’s production prowess
The unexpected winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, is a testament to Japan’s production industry and the talent of its local crew. TLG spoke to several members of the production team to know more about the project and its potential impact on Japanese cinema.
Detailing the film’s locations, Producer Akihiko Yose explains: “most of the on-location scenes were filmed around the Adachi ward in downtown Tokyo where the story takes place. Summer scenes were shot in two days in August 2017. Shooting started in full swing from mid-December with on location shoots before moving to a from this past January for about two weeks, and then we went back to location shooting. In total, we filmed for 40 days.”
Co-produced by AOI Pro., Fuji Television Network and GAGA, Shoplifters follows the story of a poverty-stricken family who decide to adopt a homeless girl.
Akihiko continues: “we had to shoot a one-year story within the limitations of our budget and the limited hours a child cast member is allowed to work. This led us to the decision to duplicate some of the set both in the actual house on location and inside the studio. This was challenging because we had to construct the same set in two different places and it requires very careful editing. In the end, everything succeeded and also fulfilled Mr. Kore-eda’s wishes.”
“On one of our shooting days, Tokyo was going to be hit with the heaviest snow in four years. The script originally had a scene where Osamu says to Shota 'I wish it would snow'. The whole crew was trying to figure out how we could still shoot this in our location with the impending snow expected. When Mr. Kore-eda knew about the expected snowfall, he began to change the scene setting and lines. This resulted in the scene of Osamu and Shota making a snowman. The shooting was seamless as if the scene was set in the snow from the beginning, and we felt really proud that we were able to capture this unforgettable moment in the film. It became one of our favorite scenes.”
At present, Japan lacks a dedicated national film incentive programme – the likes of which can be found in nearby countries including South Korea and Thailand. With the additional exposure brought about by the Cannes Film Festival however, one might expect it to only be a matter of time before the Japanese Government invest in a dedicated incentive.
Commenting on the film's success at Cannes, Hirotaka Ogata, Executive General Manager of the Entertainment Content Department notes: "the Cannes Film Festival is said to celebrate works that delve into social issues or political topics rather than commercial movies, so I think there is great significance in the fact that Shoplifters, arising from director Kore-eda’s long-time undertaking of the theme of 'family,' was the recipient of the Palme d’Or. Receiving the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival speaks to the fact that Shoplifters has universal appeal when Japanese movies typically have limited relevance outside of Japan. It is very profound that the theme of 'family' goes beyond borders."
Photo credit: (c) 2018 Fuji Television Network/GAGA Corporation/AOI Pro. Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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