Our Little Sister
Posted by:

Tara Judah

on Thu 7 July

Letter to Koreeda

Posted on Wed 10 April 2019

Hirokazu Koreeda's films have taken up so much real estate in my heart that I wondered what I might say if I wrote a letter to the great filmmaker.

If I wrote a letter to Koreeda, I’d start by saying, "Thank You." Then I’d ask about the weather in Japan...

Right now, the Spring must have set in? Living in England, my Spring is, shall we say, 'subtle', arrives late and is greyer than I’d like. So, when I think of Spring, I swap my own memories for scenes from my favourite movies.

Our Little Sister

Spring is Asano Suzu in Our Little Sister (Tue 14 May, 18:00); her maturity chimes with the arrival of the cherry blossom. As buds’ bloom, so too does her bond with her newfound sisters; she is able to let go of past pain and loneliness. I, too, imagining the sun kissing my skin as I bicycle under a canopy of cherry blossom, smile and let go. Thank you for the Spring.

I’ve never seen the cherry blossom in Japan, but I did visit at the tail-end of the summer one year, a trip inspired by the images in your films. I wondered what Japan would look like through my own eyes, having seen it so many times through your expert and controlled lens. Could I capture a mid-shot of tenderness with my amateur peepers? I don’t know if I ever did, but I learnt something far more poignant. In Our Little Sister, Senichi Fukuda (Lily Franky) hopes, as he grows older, that he can still be moved by beauty. Until I stood at Koya-san, I thought that only ever happened in films, but I now know that I can be moved by beauty, too. Thank you for the joy, the beauty, and my tears.

Sometimes it feels like I can remember moments from your films as if they happened in my own life. Maybe it’s because Japan sounds like my Australian childhood home; when I hear cicadas my skin gets hot, like the long summer nights they chirrup through.

After Life

If I were to write a letter to Koreeda, I’d tell him that ever since I saw his film of the same name, I’ve thought about the After Life (Sun 21 April, 13:50), and which memory I’d choose to re-enact and live with for eternity. Right now, I believe it is a moment that is worth forgetting all the others; I was so happy the day I saw the moose. I was in love, pregnant, surrounded by nature and I could physically imagine the years of joy ahead of me as if it were an actual path. I'm sure that choice will change over time, and that's okay, too. I hope it sweetens like a delicious plum wine.

I wonder what you’d do, Koreeda? After you interviewed all those people and collected their thoughts and stories like memories of your own, were you able to choose just one memory? And have I seen it - somewhere in the beautiful recesses of your filmography?

After the Storm

Most of all, I want to ask you about Still Walking (Sun 19 May, 14:40), After the Storm (Sun 19 May, 17:50) and a TV show I’ve never seen, Going My Home, that I hear is also a part of your unofficial, more emotional than narrative trilogy. When did you know you would continue with Ryota/Ryôta as a character? Or was it something in actor Hiroshi Abe’s eyes that made you reconsider? I see it, too, that most beautiful look of disappointment mixed with hope, bewilderment and the sense that the world is too much for just one heart to contemplate. That look, though, and the character that carries on, still walking, come what may, is not too much for any one heart to contemplate or connect with. It’s just enough. Thank you - for these moments and so many more, and for all the memories you have shared.