Japanese filmmaker Ikeda Akira’s second feature, shot in a small town outside Tokyo, is inspired by old folk tales.
In Tiger award contender Anatomy Of A Paper Clip, struggling factory worker Kogure experiences a life changing experience. In his apartment one day, he discovers a butterfly that is trapped. He frees it. Then, when he comes home, there is a woman speaking a strange dialect waiting for him.
Japanese writer director Ikeda Akira’s second feature - after 2006’s The Blue Monkey - acknowledges that his film is partially inspired by old Japanese folk tales. In particular, there is the story of the “return of the crane,” a bird that returns to a man in the shape of a woman and helps him solve the problems in his life.
Casting was an exhaustive process. “Many of the actors I hadn’t seen before,” the director explains through an interpreter. It was their shape (whether they were fat or thin) and manner that mattered as much as their experience.
The film was largely shot in in a small town, Saitema, not too far from Tokyo.
Yes, the writer-director acknowledges, it has been a long wait between his first and second features – around eight years.
“It’s not as if I have been doing nothing. I’ve made short films and I’ve been involved in theatre. But, it is true that in terms of long films, there was quite a gap.”
Ikeda raised all the money to make the film on his own and says: “There was not a producer by the normal definition.…it’s about saving bit by bit!’
The director pays tribute to the Pia Film Festival which not only showed the film but has helped promote it abroad. “In that sense, they have become the PR agency for this film,” he says.
The English title is very striking. Akira Ikeda reveals that British critic and programmer Tony Rayns helped him come up with it. “I am afraid that my own English is hardly proficient,” he quips.
In Japan, audiences have immediately realized that the mysterious woman’s dialect is made up. Western audiences haven’t picked up on this.
After a long lull between first and second features, the director expects another wait till his next feature.
“Nothing concrete is going on right now,” he adds. “I am the writing stage, sending in my proposals. There is not something I could term a real project yet.”