Noriko Yuasa has a new project on Kickstarter and it is for a feature-length film called Performing KAORU’s Funeral. A successful campaign will help finance this film which is based on an original script that she wrote in 2017 and has been working on since last year. It is described as, “A tragic and comical story of one woman’s final days, mixed with irony and love”.
Judging from the initial teaser trailer for the film, this looks like it could be something that brings tears mixed with laughter as a dark-dark drama plays out.
Release Date: 2021
Director: Noriko Yuasa
Writer: Takato Nishi (Script),
Synopsis: When Kaoru Washizu, an infamously greedy screenwriter, dies suddenly in a traffic accident, it brings together a collection of characters from the constellation of her life for her funeral.
First and foremost is her impoverished ex-husband Jun Yokotani. While he claims to be an actor himself, he teaches at a school to make ends meet. Kaoru has assigned him the role of chief mourner in her will and so he must carry out her last demands. Arriving in Okayama he meets people with conflicting feelings such as Kaoru’s co-workers who are helping arrange things but hold bitterness in their hearts for her. There is also Kaoru’s daughter who greets Jun with the colds words, “this funeral was the last wish of my mother. You have to hold the service perfectly, not missing a thing from her will. Your only reason for being here is to do so.”
Performing Kaoru’s funeral will be difficult for Jun as he finds himself facing a tough crowd but, together, these people will be able to see different aspects of the woman who has drawn them all together with her final requests that will get them to understand what it means to be a family.
Noriko Yuasa states that the story is based on her experience of losing her friend and it looks like it is combined with her experience in the movie world. It will be interesting to see how reality and fiction are combined as the story will take audiences into the behind the silver screen and into the private lives of a wide range of movie-related archetypes that crash together in a mourning period. Big comic moments are seen from some of the more exuberant characters in the trailer but I have a feeling that the genuine emotions of what it means to be connected to another person will be sheathed in that comedy and strike hearts hard as the film hits on what the obligations of family are.
This film is an international co-production with talent from Japan and Spain involved and Yuasa has global ambitions for the film with the hopes of taking it to the Venice Film Festival as well as Busan.
Speaking of global, this is also a production that has been affected by global events as it was scheduled to start shooting in November of this year but then the Covid-19 pandemic arose. While the virus presents a lot of challenges, it adds poignancy to this film which has a very universal story of people saying goodbye to loved ones and learning to value others.
So, production on the film has been pushed back to January 2021 with a view of completing it in early May 2021 and the Kickstarter campaign will help.
As written on the Kickstarter page, the first goal of crowdfunding will be to get the necessary funding that covers some of the pre-production fees listed below:
- Scenario & pre-location hunting pre-production fee
- Crew pre-production fee
- Advance advertising pre-production fee
- Translation operating pre-production fee
- Overseas staff pre-production fee
- Costs associated with casting auditions
As Yuasa says,
The aim of this crowdfunding is not only to gain as much support as possible, but also to reach the widest possible audience in the world. The amount of funding that will be raised here has a direct impact on our project in terms of quality, project sustainability and passion and motivation of the staffs.
There are various levels of support people can pledge, ranging from 1000 yen to 1,000,000 yen, and the rewards that backers can get include a”thank you” message from Noriko Yuasa and producer Mika Shimoeda, a “making-of” movie and a scene from the finished film, a digital photo album of the cast and crew on the festival circuit as well as digital access to two of Yuasa’s short films, and the chance to have your name in the credits. There is even a chance to get a limited edition T-shirt connected to the film, as made by Art Director Ina Takayuki.
Since this film is linked to traditional Japanese culture – through the unique scenes of a funeral, there are some rewards that focus on that and offer more luxurious and experiences as explained on the Kickstarter page:
It’s exciting project and one you can have faith in since Noriko Yuasa is highly experienced and she has the backing of producer Mika Shimoeda whose other credits include the award-winning 2015 film Rolling (dir: Masanori Tominaga) and Under the Turquoise Sky (dir: Kentaro, 2019).
I have reviewed a number of Noriko Yuasa’s works such as Looking for my Lost Sunflowers (2014), Girl, Wavering (2015) and Ordinary Everyday (2017), and Coming Back Sunny (2019), all of which I absolutely loved for their artful use of colours. Indeed, Ordinary Everyday was one of my favourite films of the last decade. However, this one feels more subdued based on the teaser video, so it will be interesting to see how this project goes. I’ll definitely be backing it.
If you want to support the project or find out more, please visit the film’s Kickstarter page where you can read more. You can also check out a YouTube channel to see videos with various members of the crew and get more background on everything.
The deadline for Performing KAORU’s Funeral is October 10th and so there’s still plenty of time to get involved and spread word. By doing this, you can help support a talented indie filmmaker who has the experience and the ability to pull off this project.