Hikari (Radiance): Press conference with Naomi Kawase, Masatoshi Nagase, Fuji Tatsuya and co-stars
Naomi Kawase has brought to Cannes Hikari, a story of blindness and communication, exploring the little-known world of the audio description industry. Sight forms a central motif of the movie and Kawase was keen to emphasise this aspect in her decision to cast Misaki Ayame as Misako, the young writer tasked with elucidating the film-within-a-film, and she also outlined her reasons for her style of direction.
“It was the first time I worked with Misaki and it was mainly because of her eyes. I love close-ups and that’s why I use them so often. I’m portraying people who can’t see well and the close-ups show what’s in their soul.”
Kawase also addressed the importance of nature and landscape to her filmmaking. She was in a philosophical mood: “There are a lot of trees and you can smell the earth. This is a great source of wealth, as nature can be the forest and it can be the sea, but it can be also terrifying and disastrous. In Japan, we show great respect for nature, we pray for the souls that have died and those not yet born. The film is partly shot in the mountains to create a whole world in the film. Human beings aren’t above nature; human beings can’t control nature; nature watches over us and enables us to lead our individual lives.”
Sound is fundamental for the blind characters in Hikari. Kawase was keen to stress the importance of music in the production, and she worked with musician Ibrahim Maalouf to create the score. “The first time I heard his music it didn’t just feel like music. There was something more: it was very rich as if he could turn everything into something musical. I have tremendous respect for him. I particularly like the music in the final scene and this was improvised.”
The actors were impressed when working with the director. Fuji Tatsuya, who plays the dual role of Kitabayashi and Juzo, was complimentary. “The screenplay is quite original. Kawase has a great human strength in her films. She wanted to depict the light of the moon in the pouring rain. By using quite simple words she guides us and doesn’t limit our acting. My soul has been thrown into this film but then the problem is you can’t extract yourself from it.”
Masatoshi Nagase, who plays the bitter, partially sighted photographer, Masaya Nakamori, was similarly committed to researching and immersing himself in his role. “I met a number of blind people who told me about their lives. They even told me stuff that they didn’t want to remember. I lived in the apartment a week before filming in preparation to become the character.”
Producer Masa Sawada hailed Kawase as a cinematic pioneer, suggesting that her use of “technology and work in sound offered new possibilities”.
Photo: Laurent Emmanuel / Getty Images
Read our review of Hikari (Radiance) here.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.