SEOUL, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) — Japanese film director Naomi Kawase said Thursday that her latest family drama, “True Mothers,” explored through adoption unconventional family relationships based not on parentage.
“I tried to feature a relationship that does not rely on blood ties. This is what I’ve dealt with in many of my previous works,” the director said in an online press conference during the 25th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) that kicked off Wednesday for a 10-day run in the southern port city of Busan.
“This time, I focused on people who can become a family without biological relationship,” she said.
Based on the Japanese novel “Morning Comes,” “True Mothers” starts with Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku), the adoptive mother of a six-year old son, receiving a call from a woman who claims that she is the boy’s biological mother and wants him back.
It follows the emotional reactions of the two mothers, one who gave birth to and the other who raised the child for several years, as their daily lives are disrupted.
“True Mothers,” an official selection of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, was shown at the Gala Presentation section of BIFF on Thursday.
The director, who won the Grand Prix at Cannes for “The Mourning Forest” (2007), said she knows very well that there is still a long way to go before people become accustomed to such type of a family in conservative Japan, where people still adamantly adhere to the blood ties and are reluctant to adopt.
“There is the national adoption system in Japan but few people are aware of it,” she said. “People strongly want a son to extend the family tree and it is hard for a sterile person to get married.”
The 51-year old director, who is also well known as a documentary filmmaker, used both fictional and non-fictional methods to depict the story in an effort to ease viewers’ possibly negative feelings about adoption and teenage pregnancy.
“As it has its original story, I made efforts not to lose the fictional storyline,” Kawase said. “But at the same time, I thought I can cross the line between fiction and documentary. It’s like I can bring the audience to the fictional world from reality.”
The Japanese director celebrated the opening of BIFF despite the COVID-19 pandemic that led the festival to employ a reduced hybrid format in which all outdoor events, like the opening and closing ceremonies, were canceled.
But she said she has found a glimmer of hope for a more interconnected world, as people are seeking ways to communicate through technology.
“For months of suffering the novel coronavirus pandemic, I think we are confident that the world can be connected more closely,” she said. “We can communicate online and this experience will help us anticipate physical meetings in the coming future.”