Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda has established himself as one of the finest contemporary directors. With multiple masterpieces like After Life and Nobody Knows, Koreeda’s filmography is the brilliant manifestation of true cinematic genius. After garnering international acclaim and winning the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his 2018 film Shoplifters, the filmmaker is now working on a Korean production titled Baby, Box, Broker.
In a fascinating interview, Koreeda said: “As an individual, I do express my stance against government policies, about their law changes, security and the rights of people. That’s publicly known and that’s nothing to do with film. As a filmmaker it’s not that I want to make a film about that opposition, it’s more about people committing crimes or in poverty, the people that are an inconvenience to the government, who are not being seen, people we try to hide.”
He added, “My films try to make visible the kind of people that the government wants to forget or ignore. I see my role as a filmmaker as to make them more visible rather than making a protest…As a filmmaker I’m not sure to be really honest, but within the last 10 years I’ve lost my mother and then I’ve had a child. So these are things that are close to my heart, that are really immediate to me.”
Koreeda gave valuable insights into his own filmmaking journey by disclosing his five favourite films to Rotten Tomatoes. He picked classics like Ken Loach’s 1969 masterpiece Kes which is definitely one of the greatest coming-of-age films of all time: “I have to go back to [Loach’s] early work, his early film Kes, which takes place in a working-class coal mining town. As the wild kestrel flies in the sky and then the coal miners descend into the earth, it has so many incredibly poetic elements, and that lead character’s young boy’s face will always stay with me.”
His eclectic list also contained brilliant contemporary entries like South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong’s 2007 drama Secret Sunshine. Koreeda said: “I know that Parasite and Bong Joon-ho has done so well, but I would like to… I was with the Korean director Lee Chang-dong, who most recently created Burning. We were together in Los Angeles for the Academy campaign. We spent some time. I’m going to say my fifth film is Secret Sunshine, which is from about 10 years ago, about a piano teacher whose son is kidnapped, but that’s a film that I could see over and over and over again. I really love it. That’s my fifth film.”
Among his top picks, Koreeda included Ang Lee’s popular romantic drama Brokeback Mountain which is now considered to be one of the definitive LGBTQ+ films in the mainstream consciousness. “Rewatching [Lee’s] films, I saw again Brokeback Mountain, which is a film that I really, really adore,” Koreeda admitted. “I think in a sense, it’s like Floating Clouds. It’s a depiction of an extended relationship between two people who love each other, and of course it’s a very, very wistful film.”
Check out the full list of Hirokazu Koreeda’s five favourite films below.
Hirokazu Koreeda 5 Favourite Films:
- Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse – 1955)
- Kes (Ken Loach – 1969)
- Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee – 2005)
- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy – 1964)
- Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong – 2007)
While talking about the films that he cherishes the most, Koreeda told Rotten Tomatoes: “One film is Floating Clouds by Mikio Naruse, which I first saw as a teenager. When I first started really watching Japanese films as a film director, obviously the films of Akira Kurosawa were kind of superficially more dramatic and appealing, but I keep finding myself going back to Floating Clouds.”
He went on to explain why Floating Clouds has been so important to his journey as a filmmaker: “It’s a film that if I rewatch it in my twenties and thirties and forties, it keeps growing in complexity and it keeps kind of developing within me, and I’m sure that I’ll watch it again in my sixties and seventies, and it will resonate in new ways.”