Director Yukiko Mishima responds to questions regarding her latest film, Shape of Red (2020), screening as part of 21st Century Japan: Films from 2001-2020. Moderated by K. F. Watanabe, Deputy Director of Film, Japan Society. Please note: this Q&A assumes an audience that has already seen the film.
Yukiko Mishima began making independent films at the age of 18. After graduating from Kobe College, she joined NHK, where she planned and directed numerous documentaries about ordinary people, including NHK Special, ETV Special, and Top Runner. In 2003, she set out on her own to make fiction films and started working as a freelance assistant director at places such as Toei Kyoto Studios. She later released The Bread of Happiness (2012) and A Drop of the Grapevine (2014) as writer and director. After filming, she also published the stories as novels. After 10 years of planning, A Stitch of Life (2015) premiered at the 16th Jeonju International Film Festival and was later released in Korea and Taiwan. After that, she released Night’s Tightrope (2015). Her 2017 film Dear Etranger was critically praised and won the Special Grand Jury Prize at the 41st Montreal World Film Festival as well as the 41st Fumiko Yamaji Award for Best Picture and the 42nd Hochi Film Award for Best Director.
Her latest film is Shape of Red, which was released in February 2020, starring Kaho and Satoshi Tsumabuki. The film depicts a woman’s choice of life by her own will, incorporating the problems of modern women in a romance. Her films, from documentaries to plays to TV shows, have consistently portrayed the human frailties of everyday life, but at the end of the day, she believes in small salvations of the soul. In terms of style, she has a reputation for creating beautiful images underpinned by well-honed direction. Throughout her career, her directorial approach has remained unchanged—from her early works, which at first glance appear soft, to her recent works, which expose hard truths.