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Netflix may fix Japan Movie-Financing Dilemma: Director Naomi Kawase

Streaming helps: Naomi Kawase attends the Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia in Tokyo on June 1. | AFP-JIJI

Streaming helps: Naomi Kawase attends the Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia in Tokyo on June 1. | AFP-JIJI

Japan’s Cannes prodigy Naomi Kawase believes Netflix can help unleash the creativity of her country’s film industry, despite the eruption of a row over the American streaming giant that marred the French film festival.

Kawase, a regular at the world’s most prestigious film festival since winning the Camera d’Or in 1997, says she “has not filmed a single movie with 100-percent Japanese funding” for at least a decade.

“Japan’s film industry is getting tougher and tougher for directors,” the 48-year-old says.

“Sponsors are being so cast-centric,” she adds, accusing Japanese studios of putting style before substance. “They want to use actors who can guarantee big enough audiences so that they can recover money they have invested.”

Her latest work, “Hikari” (“Radiance”), a love story centred on a cameraman whose eyesight begins to fail, which was nominated for this year’s Palme d’Or, was mainly funded by French sponsors.

Asked if she would want to work with Netflix, Kawase says: “That would be a place for me to express myself freely. I wouldn’t deny that at all.”

Kawase cited South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, whose Netflix-funded work “Okja” was booed at Cannes, as crediting the streaming giant for giving him total creative freedom.

“Netflix gives him as much money as he needs and doesn’t intervene,” she says. “He’s said it’s a great environment for filmmakers and I’d say he has a point for sure.”

The Cannes Festival declared war on Netflix, accusing the $70 billion movie and television streaming service of ignoring the big screen and threatening to ban it from entering films in the future.

French exhibitors have slammed it for bypassing cinemas to show films direct to television, but without Netflix investment, many obscure and art house films would be in danger of collapsing … (read more)

via The Japan Times

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