This article evaluates contemporary filmmaker Naomi Kawase’s (b. 1969–) status within Japan’s film industry as well as her place among women directors. Using Kawase’s three award winning features Suzaku
(Moe no suzaku, 1997), Shara
(Sharasōju, 2003), and Mogari
(Mogari no mori, 2007) as the basis of my analysis, I examine the way in which these films illuminate the construction of Kawase’s female authorship in relation to a specific location. While Kawase has made a number of critically and commercially successful films since 2007, I limit my discussion to her early narrative works set in Nara, Japan in order to illuminate the significance of the international film festival apparatus in establishing and upholding the discourse of auteurism in relation to regional identity. Through my analysis I argue that Kawase successfully negotiates this discourse through a strategy of self-promotion that emphasizes a “cinema of place” within the broader context of international film festivals such as Cannes. Kawase’s “cinema of place” ultimately allows her to rearticulate the meaning of female authorship within an art cinema context by representing a new national cinema that challenges the structures and boundaries of Japan’s studio system.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited