COMPETITION – Still The Water, a spiritual ode to the Earth

The film crew © AFP / AP

Nature provides ample scope for reflection for Japanese film-maker Naomi Kawase who once again explores its mystique for mankind in Still The Water (Futatsume no mado), her eighth feature film. 

A religious procession advancing solemnly across a lush windswept prairie in The Mourning Forest (Mogari no mori), Grand Prix, 2007). A pair of lovers clawing at one another in the pouring rain, bodies soaked in the deluge from the thundering skies (Hanezu (Hanezu no tsuki), 2011). Time and again Mother Nature provides the creative framework for Kawase’s work, determining the direction of her films to the point of becoming a character in her own right.


Kawase’s ever delicate and poetic mise-en scene lives and breathes the soft forms of nature and the soundtrack of the natural world. The Japanese director likes to explore nature’s “divine” influence on the human “cycle of life and death” as a way, she explains, to confront her protagonists with “its omnipotence”. “Mother Nature is there and Man is minuscule by comparison. He imagines he can dominate her because she doesn’t say much. But when she unleashes her might, he is powerless,” she noted in 2011. 


Still from the film © 2014 WOWOW & COMME DES CINÉMAS


Family, spirituality and the passing down of ancestral beliefs are other recurring themes in Kawase’s work, who sees them as “a vertical link between past and future” to connect with nature. Still The Water was shot on the Japanese island of Amami Oshima, where Kawase’s family has its roots, and inspired by a story her grandmother used to tell. The film portrays a teenage couple’s discovery of spirituality. The two young protagonists, played by Jun Yoshinaga and Nijiro Murakami, find a body out at sea and decide to investigate. “Our soul is complex, vague and unpredictable. In this story I hope to see Man mature upon coming into contact with the god we call Nature,” adds the director.


Benoit Pavan



Tuesday 20th May / Grand Théâtre Lumière / 4:30 pm
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