With a background in both film and anthropology, Fumito Fujikawa’s career encompasses both documentary and drama and sometimes blurs the line between the two.
He first came to international attention with his debut feature film The Name of the Whale, a family drama shot in the director’s home prefecture of Hiroshima and centred on a junior high school boy searching for fossils while his family and friendship circle undergo changes. Critics noted its combination of documentary-like delivery of drama and the use of a partially non-professional cast and child actors and this earned it the moniker of a dramamentary, a style so effective at enraputring viewers in its world that it won the film the Audience Award at the 2015 Pia Film Festival. It went on to be screened internationally at festivals such as Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Taipei.
His next film was Supa Layme, a documentary shot in the Peruvian Andes following a family of six tending to llamas, sheep and working the land. It went on to win awards including taking best film in the Peruvian competition of the Lima Alterna Festival (you can read an interview with the director about that film here).
For his third feature film, The Light of Spring, Fujikawa returned to Japan and shot a work in Tokyo with a real-life family of four acting out the separation of the parents and children during the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing directly from The Name of the Whale, he recruited two of that film’s actors, Yuki Hirabuki, nee Kimura, and her husband Masana Hirabuki. They brought their two children, five-year-old boy Shui and baby girl Chikasa. Together they convincingly relay a realistic story of a family falling apart, the quiet tensions and desperation between the parents affecting the children until a resolution of sorts is reached.
The Light of Spring played at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2022 in March and is currently playing at Five Flavours Film Festival in Poland where it can be viewed online in Poland (details here) until December 04th. At the festival, it won The Special Mention for the International People’s Jury award. To find out more on the background of the film, this interview was conducted with the director.
Thanks go out to Fumito Fujikawa for doing this interview and providing lots of background, to Takako Pocklington for translating between English and Japanese, and to the staff of Osaka Asian Film Festival staff for making the interview happen.