Japanese director Satoshi Miki was in attendance at Fantasia International Film Festival as his latest film It’s Me, It’s Me received its Canadian premiere.

Satoshi Miki at Fantasia

Satoshi Miki at Fantasia

Opening this year’s Camera Lucida spotlight at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Satoshi Miki’s It’s Me, It’s Me (Ore Ore) received its Canadian premiere this weekend with the director in attendance.

With several great performances from J-pop star Kazuya Kamenashi (it’ll make sense when you see the film), the deliciously surreal and hilarious It’s Me, It’s Me centres on 28-year-old sales attendant Hitoshi Nagano (Kamenashi).

Struggling to get recognised in life, Hitoshi steals a man’s cell phone and scams his mum by posing as the guy. This sets in motion a spiral of increasingly fantastical events, including Being John Malkovich levels of doppelgangers and sinister ‘deletions’.

Miki is no stranger to Fantasia, winning Best Script for his last feature Adrift in Tokyo, and immediately endeared himself to the packed-out Imperial crowd by introducing the film in French, before returning for a Q&A after the screening.

Adapted from the novel by award-winning author Tomoyuki Hoshino, the director said that it was the transformation of “something ordinary into something special, magical” that attracted him to the adaptation.

As for the casting of the main actor to live in Miki’s fantastical, yet grounded, world, it was the chance for life to imitate art that led to the casting of Kamenashi.

“In real life, he [Kamenashi] has a lot of faces: he’s a singer, he’s an actor and also a presenter, so he’s already doing something like changing his personality,” explained Miki. “I wasn’t looking for an actor that changes his face like Robert de Niro, but for me, it was more interesting to have someone who is naturally changing his face in daily life.

“The people in Japan, and also here, are changing personality by going on Facebook and Twitter, and each time they’re creating their own character, so it was more real to do that approach.”

Perhaps fittingly, the Q&A included its own offbeat moments such as Miki describing the blink-and-miss-it visual gag of changing a bowling ball for a watermelon (“it means nothing”) and the director joking that the real reason he made the film was because he wanted to come to Montreal, feeling this was the type of film Fantasia would show.

As for the real meaning behind It’s Me, It’s Me? “This film doesn’t have any one answer. Each of you with your different backgrounds [can] find your own answer and meaning,” noted Miki.

This year’s Camera Lucida spotlight, which aims to show where genre filmmaking is at this moment in time, also includes the world premieres of Darren Paul Fisher’s OXV: the Manual (screening on July 24 and 27) and Joe Swanberg’s 24 Exposures on Aug 4.

It's Me, It's Me