Film News

Japan horror guru's switch to home life pays off

TOKYO (Reuters) - Dropping the blood-curdling fare that made his name paid off for Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who picked up an award at Cannes this year for a family drama that was his first non-horror work in years.

Since his 1997 serial-killer movie “Cure” became a cult hit around the world, Kurosawa has built an eerie catalogue that has helped fuel international interest in Japan’s horror genre and inspired Hollywood remakes.

“I made a lot of horror films, but I wanted to do other things,” the 53-year-old director told Reuters on Thursday. “I didn’t want to be seen as a specialist in that genre.”

His breakout movie, “Tokyo Sonata,” won a jury prize at the Cannes film festival in May for its depiction of the breakdown of an average family under the strains of school and company life in a grubby and unglamorous Tokyo.

Kurosawa said he was thrilled to find his change of direction chimed with audiences in Cannes.

“I have shown films at Cannes many times before,” he said.

“But with Tokyo Sonata I felt that audiences really appreciated the film and found it satisfying. It wasn’t that they saw it as something weird and exclusively Japanese. They could relate to it,” he added.

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But he said the chance to bring his work to an even wider international audience, via Hollywood, would only appeal if he could work in the global entertainment hub on his own terms.

“If I were offered the chance, I would like to try working abroad, even in Hollywood. But I want to make films in my own way. If that is appreciated by audiences abroad, I want to do it,” he said.

The decision to pursue the theme of family life was not easy, partly because Kurosawa wanted to avoid comparison with one of his heroes, director Yasujiro Ozu, whose moving 1953 drama “Tokyo Story” is widely regarded as a classic of Japanese cinema.

“I am almost what you could call a rabid fan of Ozu and I think I have been influenced by him even in my horror films,” he said. “But I have never imitated him. In fact I’ve spent so many years trying to avoid Ozu, I keep asking myself why the story and even the title have happened to follow on from Ozu.”

The comparisons may end with “Tokyo Sonata” because Kurosawa says he is keen for yet another change of direction.

“It won’t be a horror movie or a domestic drama,” he said when asked about his next project. “I want to do something different again.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy