Renka Iwamoto (Nogizaka46)Renka Iwamoto (Nogizaka46)



Interview with director Nobuyuki Miyake of the movie “If the cherry blossoms stand out in the world”


The heroine's growth and the beautiful circle of life: Director Nobuyuki Miyake talks about the movie "If the world is full of cherry blossoms"

Renka Iwamoto (Nogizaka46)

The movie ``If the cherry blossoms bloom in the world'' is currently in theaters. The drama centers around Keizo, an elderly man who works part-time as a retirement advisor, and Saki, a high school girl who refuses to go to school, in which various people interact. Akira Takarada, a big star in the post-war Japanese film industry, is also the producer, and the film is attracting attention for its co-starring role with Nogizaka46 member Renka Iwamoto. I recently had the opportunity to interview Nobuyuki Miyake, the director of this work, and asked him about the process of creating the work, and his thoughts on this work.




Producer and lead role
The anti-war message found in the process of giving form to Akira Takarada's thoughts


``If the cherry blossoms stand out in the world.'' This work, whose title is the first verse of a waka poem read by Narihira Ariwara, is said to be filled with Akira Takarada's thoughts. From the time this project was first brought to Nobuyuki Miyake, Takarada had been obsessed with the title and the idea of ​​``cherry blossoms,'' but it was necessary to reconsider the idea before it became the final plot. .


``I went to Mr. Takarada's office many times with the scriptwriter, and had many sessions with Mr. Takarada to incorporate it into the script.The plot that Mr. Takarada had in mind at the initial stage was completely different from the current one. Because it was a commodity, it had a history of changing its shape many times."


Takarada, who is also a producer, was particular about four motifs: the old man and the girl, Nori Ibaraki's poem ``Sakura,'' which is read at the beginning of the film, and the Japanese poem by Narihira Ariwara that is also the title. It seemed like the intention was to show some kind of conflict between generations, but neither of them really clicked. There was a time when, even after repeated proposals, the divergence from Takarada's vision only widened.


At that time, Miyake was advised to read Takarada's own book, Farewell Song. What was depicted there was Takarada's childhood. His experience in Manchuria was harsh. Miyake tells the story of how he was shot in the abdomen by a Russian soldier and had surgery to remove it without anesthesia, how he and his family risked their lives to return to Japan, and how difficult life was in post-war Japan. It depicts an unimaginable, terrifying war experience.


At the root of this project, Takarada is anti-war. I focused on that and reconsidered. Then, all of a sudden, the screenwriter came up with ideas such as ``end-of-life advisor'' and ``school refusal.'' When they became dots and were connected by lines to form a plot, Takarada smiled and asked Miyake to shake his hand. ``After revising the plan many times, I was relieved to finally realize that Mr. Takarada's ideas had been sublimated.'' Production began in earnest from here.

Akira Takarada and Renka Iwamoto Akira Takarada and Renka Iwamoto

Keizo (Akira Takarada) and Saki (Renka Iwamoto) are wearing part-time uniforms. Director Miyake is said to have been particular about the design of the uniform. Saki (Renka Iwamoto <Nogizaka 46>), a high school girl who doesn't go to school and works part-time as an end-of-life advisor, works together with Keizo (Akira Takarada), an elderly gentleman, to help people in various situations with their "end-of-life" plans. The story is about helping people.


At the moment when Renka Iwamoto decided to become an actress


Miyake also met Renka Iwamoto, who is active in Nogizaka46, for the first time. What kind of person is she and what kind of acting skills does she have? She said she rehearsed as she fumbled. When filming began, Miyake hesitated when creating a schedule within the short number of days decided. "I was worried about which scene to start filming. When I talked to the assistant director, he came up with a surprising suggestion." His suggestion was to film the scene in which Saki, played by Iwamoto, causes her to refuse to go to school.


I took the plunge and took up the suggestion. We started filming with the scene where Saki reveals her emotions the most and cries in front of the scene of her bullying. Iwamoto lived up to Miyake's expectations and said that she was able to perform the role successfully. This has a surprising effect. He decided to play the scene that causes the heroine Saki to not go to school, that is, the reason for the heroine's current situation, and was able to smoothly move into the acting that follows.


“During the short shooting period, I could see that Iwamoto-san was changing rapidly.During filming, Iwamoto-san was able to “be” Saki-chan, the heroine, and never wavered.At the end of filming. On the other hand, there was something even more solid and weighty inside. That's really amazing."


He doesn't shy away from Akira Takarada, who is a big star. He listens to what Takarada has to say, responds well, and even subtly supports Takarada. The interaction with Takarada was very natural, just like Keizo and Saki in the movie. In his greetings at the preview screening, Takarada praised Iwamoto's hard work. She said, ``I could see glimpses of a great actress'' in Iwamoto, who was not intimidated and did not give any NGs.


Unfortunately, Akira Takarada, who was the producer of this film and starred in W, passed away suddenly on March 2022, 3, before the film's release date. ``It's a shame because when I met him on stage about four days before his death, he was in good spirits.'' After his death, Miyake visited to offer his condolences and was greeted with kind words by Takarada's wife and staff. ``From the planning stage, I had quite a heated exchange of opinions with Mr. Takarada, so I think his family and the staff around him were secretly nervous.Despite their worries, I heard that Mr. Takarada really seemed to be having fun. I was happy that they accepted me," Miyake said.



Starting with Akira Takarada's particular poem ``Sakura'' by Noriko Ibaraki, and then Osamu Dazai's ``Tokatonton,'' and the title of Narihira Ariwara's waka poem, the lyricism of literature is added to the work.


The challenge of being the first commercial work


Here, I would like to introduce Miyake's own background. Miyake decided to pursue a career in film a little late, when he was in his 30s. He originally loved movies, but after graduating from university he worked as an office worker. However, movies have always been a part of Miyake's life. He said, ``No matter how late I got home, I watched movies every day. It was my way of refreshing myself.''


One night, I started watching one of my favorite movies that I've watched over and over again, and I realized something. There are only three locations shown in the work. Isn't it possible to make a movie yourself? So, he bought a video camera over the weekend and immediately started making movies. After that, she moved to the United States to learn film production. She enters New York City Graduate School.


While still in school, he was involved in filming TV dramas, and in 2008 won the Austin Film Festival Grand Prix for "Lost & Found." Building on his track record, this work became his first commercial film directorial work.


``I have made works in the past, but since it is a project filled with Akira Takarada's thoughts, and because it is a commercial work, I worked with the staff of Altamira Pictures, the production company, rather than with the staff I am familiar with. It was a work that was a challenge for me in every sense of the word, including how we put it together."


Filming in this new environment led to a very good chemistry once they started. “You might imagine that in a film production environment, the director alone makes all the decisions, but that is definitely not the case.Especially, the staff at Altamira Pictures, everyone is free to work on the film. We're an open-minded team where we come up with ideas and opinions, and if they're good, we'll adopt them."


As I mentioned earlier, on Iwamoto's first day of filming, it was the idea of ​​an assistant director on the staff to start with the most difficult scene. "In the end, it worked out well, and it helped Iwamoto-san form the core of his acting. There were also many other scenes in which I incorporated ideas from the staff. It was a good experience for me."


This sense of openness is clearly conveyed through his works. The film has a refreshing feel to it, befitting Miyake's first commercial film.


The strength to silently embrace the pain and loss in your heart
Let the flowers of each time bloom


The heroine is a high school girl named Saki, and Keizo, an old man who has worked as a judicial scrivener for a long time and now works part-time as a final life advisor with Saki. The two somehow sense each other's emotional pain and loss. Two people, who are about the same age apart as a great-grandfather and a grandson, work together in the same workplace, and there is no conflict between generations; they care for each other's pain and do not touch on it. The reason I don't touch someone is not out of indifference, but out of consideration for the other person.


Keizo's war experience is not something that today's young people would raise their fists, loudly talk about, and conclude with. He understands how difficult life is for modern high school girls who are unable to attend school, and does not argue which is more tragic compared to the war he experienced. All of the characters silently embrace their pain, but do not stop living normally. Easy and strong. So it's beautiful and refreshing.


``I wanted it to be a story about the growth of the heroine. I also wanted to convey that she should always keep her head up in life no matter what.The heroine in this movie is an idol named Renka Iwamoto, but I made something that is not an idol movie. So I was most happy when a critic told me, ``It's not an idol movie,'' Miyake said.


It is said that each person has their own flower of time. The heroine, Iwamoto, has a flower of time that can only be played with the brilliance of a teenager's youth, and a flower of time that can only be expressed by Takarada, an old man who ran through the Showa movie industry, with a mature and nostalgic nature. However, it has come to fruition beautifully here. I would like you to experience for yourself the moment when two people from different generations mysteriously interact and life seems to come full circle.



(Titles omitted)


◆Movie “If the cherry blossoms bloom in the world”

A human drama starring Renka Iwamoto of Nogizaka 46 and famous actor Akira Takarada, with the theme of cherry blossom season and end of life. Saki Yoshioka is a high school girl who doesn't go to school and works part-time as an end-of-life advisor. Together with Keizo Shibata, an elderly gentleman she works with, she spends her days being close to people in various situations and helping them with their end of life. Meanwhile, Nagumo, who was Saki's homeroom teacher, quit his job as a teacher due to bullying from his girlfriend's students and became desperate. Saki often visits Nagumo's home to check on her, who lives a reclusive life, and confesses her feelings to the female student who is the one who bullied her. To Saki, who is also not attending school and looking for a place to go, Keizo tells Saki about his sick wife and his memories of seeing her under the cherry blossoms. Saki goes out in search of a cherry tree to cheer up Keizo and his wife, and comes across a truth. The director is Nobuyuki Miyake, whose 2017 short film ``Siren'' attracted attention at film festivals both domestically and internationally. Produced in 2022 / 80 minutes / G / Japan Distribution: Toei Video


Nobuyuki Miyake

After graduating from Doshisha University, he worked at an advertising agency for about four years. After that, he moved to the United States with the aim of becoming a film director. He studied film production at New York City Graduate School. After winning numerous film festivals for his short films, he directed the feature film Lost & Found, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Austin Film Festival. In 2011, he was selected as part of the Agency for Cultural Affairs' Young People Development Project and created ``RAFT.'' His short film "Siren", directed in 2017, won awards at domestic and international film festivals. In 2022, his directorial film ``Sakura no Nakariseba'' will be released.

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