Interview with “For Rei” Director Yukari Sakamoto [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Yukari Sakamoto is an indie director who started making films while she was studying Philosophy at Sophia University. Her film Obake was part of MOOSIC LAB2014 and won the Best Actress and Musician awards. After that, she studied editing at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Film and Cinema where she majored in film and directed music videos. Since then, she has been the assistant producer on the the major feature Eating Women (2018) and directed part of the omnibus movie 21st Century Girl (2019).

Sakamoto’s latest work For Rei derives some of its details from the director’s background to create a deeply personal picture of a modern young woman navigating complicated feelings. The titular protagonist (An Ogawa) goes to philosophy class and lives with a kind boyfriend, but the trauma of her parent’s divorce has caused an ambivalence towards the people she should be closest to, and herself. This is a feeling that gnaws away at her over the course of the film which is shot in a subjective style to analyze this young woman’s attempts to understand herself.

Sakamoto sat down at the Osaka Asian Film Festival to talk about the making of the film, how she translated her background onto the screen and some of the design choices she made. The interview was conducted with help from the interpreter Keiko Matsushita while the translation was made with the help of the interpreter Takako Pockington.

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For Rei レイのために Dir: Yukari Sakamoto (2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

For Rei      For Rei Film Poster

レイのためにRei no Tame ni

Release Date: June 27th, 2020

Duration: 65 mins.

Director: Yukari Sakamoto

Writer: Yukari Sakamoto (Script),

Starring: An Ogawa, Amon Hirai, Seiji Kinoshita, Ryo Matsuura,

OAFF Website

Stories of the effects of family breakups on children are hardly a new thing for Japanese cinema with filmmakers like Hirokazu Koreeda and Shinji Somai using it in films such as I Wish (2011) and Moving (1993). Being unique in this field is hard but through nuanced filmmaking, director Yukari Sakamoto creates an intimate, challenging and original portrait of a modern young woman who faces difficult emotions lingering from the trauma of her parent’s split.

 

The titular Rei (An Ogawa) is our main character. She is a university student who lives a peaceful life with her boyfriend Nakamura (Amon Hirai) but beneath her quiet exterior is a girl struggling to become a woman. She is at the most turbulent period of life as she self-actualises a personality but before that can happen she faces the challenge of cauterising the wound of her parent’s divorce and her father’s absence. This has caused a rupture in her sense of self which has created a conflicted personality reticent to the point of being cut her off from others. Rei seeks to heal this by studying philosophy at university. By wrestling with this complicated subject she seeks to clarify and set to rest her emotions. However, as she studies, the desire to meet her absent father (Seiji Kinoshita), who she hasn’t seen since she was a little child, soon seems like more viable avenue of self-understanding.

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