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Chinese film is a departure for Takita

Oscar-winning Japanese director cooks up an emotional tale with Silence of Smoke, Xu Fan reports.

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-13 08:21

Han Geng as the son Liu Jiansan, with his wife and daughter, played by Xue Haojing and Xu Zhimo.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The project was initially launched in 2015, when China's film industry was experiencing an unprecedented expansion, with that year's box office posting a year-on-year increase of 48.7 percent.

After reading the novella sent to him by the producers, Takita says he found the tale's core message about the generation gap between a father and son quite easy to understand from a Japanese perspective.

"In Asian stories, fathers are mostly portrayed as silent and reserved, and they do many things for their children behind the scenes. It is only through the passage of time that people begin to comprehend their fathers. This is distinctive of Asian familial affection," he explains.

During preparations, the director received a suggestion from his art director, who was traveling to Kunming and Tengchong in Yunnan province to identify locations for the shoot.

After seeing the well-preserved residential buildings of Heshun — an ancient town, more than 600 years old — Takita recalls that he was attracted to its traditional lifestyle and beautiful landscapes, and that it was the exact setting he had envisioned for the story.

However, he says, he still had one difficulty to overcome: Bingjinggao as described in the novella does not actually exist.

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