One of the most exciting Japanese filmmakers to emerge on the international scene in recent years — GRAND BOUQUET, included here, was one of the select shorts in this year’s Director’s Fortnight in Cannes — Nao Yoshigai has steadfastly developed a unique, personal and remarkably coherent universe. A choreographer and dancer, as well as a filmmaker, her films often function as fantastical microcosms of mounting intensity, in which the often violent, always daring and surprising rhythms and impulses of the human body and the natural world provide for many narrative surprises: a world of wind and sunshine, bated breath, skin — living and dead — of sweat lubricating motion, of hair hissing, of fangs cracking. In other words, a world of great beauty.
In STORIES FLOATING ON THE WIND (2018), a coastal town of Kanagawa becomes the theatre for a number of whispered stories — captured, as it were, by an expressive camera following a woman biking furiously around crazed children and seagulls alike. In THE PEAR AND THE FANG (2018), Ayano, a young recluse, develops a whimsical obsession with pears. Elsewhere, Satoko grows such beautiful fruits. One day, she discovers the bloody fang of a beast next to a burlap sack. A pear is missing, picked right off the tree. Two worlds collide. In HOTTAMARU DAYS (2015), two words collide: “Hotteoku” (to leave something as it is) and “Tamaru” (to accumulate) become Hottamaru — the biological trace of our selves — in an old, wooden house inhabited by dancing nymphs. As their bodily rituals grow increasingly intense and involved, they discover the presence of another being… Finally, GRAND BOUQUET (2019) pits a nameless woman (Hanna Chan, also of this year’s G AFFAIRS) against a mysterious dark force. As the black object attacks, the woman, unable to speak, spills her guts out in a sea of beautiful, colourful flowers. – Ariel Esteban Cayer