Naomi Kawase

(Nara, Japan)
Naomi Kawase


The Carrosse d’Or Prize, awarded to Naomi Kawase in Cannes by the French Society of Film Directors in 2009, consolidated her reputation as the director who is best able to explore the interstices of the intimate world. This prize, in recognition of her career, was the culmination of all the other international awards she has garnered since graduating from the Osaka School of Photography in 1989.

Her first documentary films were Embracing (1992) and Katatsumori (Snail, 1994). The first dealt with her search for the father who had abandoned her as a child, and the second was a portrait of her great-aunt who raised her, which depicted the rituals of her life and old age. Kawase won the Caméra D'Or Award for her debut feature film Moe no Suzaku at the Cannes Festival in 1997, becoming the youngest winner in its history. Her next film The Weald (1997) was awarded the Special Mention Prize at the Visions du Réel Festival in 1999; Hotaru (Firefly, 2000), which was again about her family ghosts, won prizes at the Locarno International Film Festival.

Her next feature film Shara (2003) was screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003, a festival she returned to a few years later with her undisputed masterpiece The Mourning Forest ( 2007). The film won the Special Jury Grand Prix at the 60th Cannes Festival and has become one of the great contemporary films about pain and sorrow. Her next film, Nanayomachi (Seven Nights, 2008), dealt with the search for the meaning of life by a woman lost in Thailand, and Koma, which was created for the Digital Project at the Jeonju International Film Festival, proved her ability to be open to all enquiries into the real. In 2010, she presented the documentary Genpin, at the Sant Sebastian Festival, a reflection on natural childbirth and the relationship between pleasure, birth and death. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize.

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