COMPETITION – Like Father, Like Son: a new look at paternity

Film cast © AFP

What does being a father mean? This is the question Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda asked himself for his new film in Competition: Soshite Chichi Ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son). A personal look at paternity involving a normal Japanese family.

Since his very first film Maborosi in 1995, family relationships have provided a backdrop to the work of Kore-eda who sees himself as Hiroshi Shimizu’s successor. In 2004 he focused on the bonds between siblings in Nobody Knows, the true story of four children abandoned by their mother in their apartment in Sugamo for four months. The feature film won the best male actor award for 14-year-old actor Yagira Yuuya. Echoing this drama, in 2012 he directed I Wish, a perfect counterpart to his previous film, in which two brothers, separated by their parents’ divorce, set off on a secret voyage in order to be reunited.


In Like Father, Like Son, the filmmaker paints the portrait of a middle-class couple who learns that the child they have brought up is not their biological son, who was switched with the child of another family at birth and brought up in modest surroundings.

The young director took inspiration from recently becoming a father to deal with the issue of transmission. He said: “When my daughter was born five years ago, I asked myself a lot of questions: when does a father really become a father? Is it sharing his blood that makes a man a father or is it the time that a father and a child spend together?”

Free of sentimentalism, Kore-eda’s work is always poetic and almost documentary-like. His minimalist touch allows him to address the most the complex subjects with finesse, as in 2009 with Air Doll, a dramatic comedy presented in Un Certain Regard in which an inflatable doll comes to life.

Lisa Revil

Saturday 18th May / Grand Théâtre Lumière / 11.30 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
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