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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

Liu Jiansan tries to make the family recipe.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"It is somewhat difficult to imagine this pastry based solely on the description in the novella. I drew inspiration from wagashi (a traditional Japanese confection) while traveling in historical cities like Kyoto and Kanazawa," recalls Takita.

As Silence of Smoke marks his first movie outside of Japan, he brought the main crew members from Departures to work with him in China. Despite encountering a language barrier and cultural differences, Takita says he was impressed with how efficiently his fellow Chinese crew members worked throughout the shoot, which took place between September and November 2018.

Takita also makes a cameo appearance in the film as an unnamed director. The scene occurs when the son, played by Han, arrives at the film and television studio in search of a new future. He stumbles upon the director sitting behind a monitor, engrossed in the filming of a martial arts movie. When the protagonist approaches to make an inquiry, the director politely makes a "shh" gesture.

With a directorial career spanning more than four decades, Takita says the character symbolizes his passion and love for cinema.

"In this scene, the monitor is focused on the filmmakers, actors and the son on set at the studio. They all appear in this scene because they love movies. I played the part of a director, because I also wanted to be a part of this world, to immerse myself in the essence of filmmaking, and become a guardian of movies," Takita explains with a smile.

As a regular visitor to China over the past decade, both to make the movie and serve as a jury member at two of China's most influential movie events — the Beijing and Shanghai international film festivals — Takita has become more familiar with Chinese filmmakers.

Listing a string of famous directors from Zhang Yimou to Chen Kaige and John Woo, he says their acting and directorial efforts, such as Zhang's early performance in Old Well and Woo's epic war movie Red Cliff, have impressed many Japanese cinemagoers.

Noting that he is also fond of Zhang's 2005 movie Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, which stars Japan's Ken Takakura, Takita expresses a wish to see more cooperation between Japanese and Chinese filmmakers, highlighting the potential learning and benefits that can be derived from such partnerships.

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