Japan’s most known female director, Naomi Kawase, had her latest film premiere on Friday with little fanfare and poor ticket sales amid recent allegations of her violent behavior on set.
After Kawase was accused of violently assaulting crew members, it is speculated that the allegations left a negative impact on the Friday screening of her two-part Olympic documentary film, “Official Film of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Side A.” In comparison to “Top Gun: Maverick” which ranked No. 1 on the weekend box office ratings in Japan and sold over 60,000 tickets, Kawase’s film sat in 13th place and sold only 2,716 tickets. In an interview with Shukan Bunshun in late April, an anonymous former crew member of Kawase’s production company Kumie claimed that he was brutally beaten by Kawase in October 2015. He explained that after Kawase punched him in the face and knocked him to the ground, she continued to beat him as other staff members fled the scene in fear. He immediately resigned on the same day and was reportedly left with a swollen and bruised face.
Kawase and the male staff member released a joint statement on Kumie’s website on April 28, stating, “The parties involved have already reached a resolution regarding the incident.”
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The magazine also revealed that Kawase reportedly kicked an assistant director in the stomach on the set of “True Mothers” in May 2019 after he touched her to point out an error in a shot during filming. The director of photography, Yuta Tsukinaga, and the entire cinematography crew reportedly left the production after the incident.
In an interview with Variety on May 25, Kawase talked about the #MeToo accusations against male Japanese directors, where she stated that “the pendulum is swinging in the Japanese film industry.”
“And just because you’re a woman, you’re expected to think a certain way and because you’re a man, you’re not supposed to be this or that. This polarization of thought is problematic. I wish that we could return to being human beings and talk to one another,” Kawase said.
Kawase has had eight films selected at the Cannes Film Festival since 1997, when she won the Camera d’Or for her film “Suzaku.” She also won the Grand Prix in 2007 for the film “The Mourning Forest.”
The 53-year-old director has not yet spoken out about the allegations against her.