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Ryusuke Hamaguchi in Venice: New Film Wins 'Silver Lion'

With the Venice prize for "Evil Does Not Exist," Ryusuke Hamaguchi now has awards from the world's three top film festivals, including Canne and Berlin in 2021.



Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi (second from left) and cast members attend the official screening of "Evil Does Not Exist" at the Venice Film Festival on the 4th (©KAZUKO WAKAYAMA)

Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi won the Grand Jury Prize (Silver Lion) for Evil Does Not Exist at the 80th Venice International Film Festival. With this latest accolade, Hamaguchi has won an award at the world's top three most prestigious film festivals. 

Hamaguchi won the Berlin Film Festival Grand Jury Prize (Silver Bear) for 2021's Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. The director also picked up Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for Drive My Car the same year. Without a doubt, this tremendous achievement sets Hamaguchi apart as a world-class Japanese director. 

At a press conference following Drive My Car's selection for competition at the Cannes International Film Festival, Hamaguchi praised international film festivals. "As a filmmaker who has been making films independently, international film festivals are a source of inspiration for me. They have helped me discover and nurture my true self."

A scene from "Evil Does Not Exist" (Facebook, movies).

What Makes a Great Film

Ryusuke Hamaguchi's films are characterized more by their philosophical and artistic qualities than by great commercial success. Writing most of his films by himself, the director demonstrated his skillful use of dialogue in the primarily conversational drama Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

A unique direction method Hamaguchi employs is to have the actors read the script emotionlessly before filming. Without intonation, the reading sounds entirely monotonous. However, the absence of the actors' interpretation allows viewers to ponder the director's intentions behind the lines.

The Venice International Film Festival announces the Silver Lion Prize goes to Ryusuke Hamaguchi for "Evil Does Not Exist".

A Silent Film with a Loud Message

Evil Does Not Exist centers on the developers of an upscale campground and the villagers of the natural community it threatens. At first glance, the film may appear to be about the destruction of nature and the environment. Director Hamaguchi, however, says, "This is not a film about nature conservation."

The project began with a request from Eiko Ishibashi, who wrote the score for Drive My Car. Ishibashi asked Hamaguchi to create a silent film to accompany her live performance. Beautiful music plays throughout as the camera angles up at the trees and pans lingeringly over the forest.

In an interview at the Venice International Film Festival, Director Hamaguchi spoke about how the film developed. 

I began by approaching everything visually. I thought the natural environment where Ms Ishibashi worked might best suit her music. As things progressed though, I realized visuals alone were not enough. How humans configure in this environment just seemed natural to explore.

On the film's theme, Hamaguchi said, "Whenever you put human characters in nature, inevitably the words 'environmental issue' come up. However, the question of the environment is an issue of the everyday more than anything else. We need dialogue to solve it, but society today does not respect dialogue. That is what the film is about."


(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun


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