Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is famous for his films’ small details, vivid characters and delicate but relatable stories. With Broker, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, he decided to both stick to his strengths and make a change. It is the director’s first Korean-language movie, but it tells another Kore-eda story about social outcasts who come together to form a makeshift family. Broker began years ago; Kore-eda developed the idea for the story at the same time he was writing Shoplifters, which later won Cannes’ Palme d’Or in 2018. He quickly assembled a star-studded cast of Korean actors — Sang Kang-ho, Gang Dong‑won, Bae Doona and IU — and continued from there.
Last week, Kore-eda, who has just started developing his next project in Japan, attended the Venice Film Festival to receive Ente dello Spettacolo’s Besson Prize, ahead of Broker’s Italy release on Oct. 13. The Hollywood Reporter connected with him for a brief chat on the Lido to discuss Italian cinema’s influences on his work, Broker’s inspirations and the state of contemporary Japanese film.
The tone in Broker is somewhat more ironical than in your previous movies.
The lighter tone is in part due to Song Kang-ho’s acting. He has this skill where he can find an ironic and delicate vein in any situation.
How important were the influence of Fellini and Italian neorealism on you?
Fellini has been a very strong presence in my life, since I was only 16. My first choices as a director were influenced by him. He gave me a clear idea of what directing is and its meaning. Fellini had a duplicitous aspect, caught between character and poetry. Especially in the latter half of his career.
And as for neorealism?
Working with non-professional actors has always been fascinating to me and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do in some of my first works as a director.
You’ve mentioned “poetry” in other interviews as well. How would you define that in this context?
In Fellini’s La strada there’s the scene where Gelsomina is sort of down and il Matto is trying to cheer her up. He picks up a rock and says, “All things have a purpose, even this rock; and you too have a purpose.” You see, that rock and that speech are poetry.
What is the situation of Japanese cinema today? Several Japanese movies, thanks to you and other authors like Ryusuke Hamaguchi (winner of the 2022 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film), are being widely seen and discussed across the world today.
If this is the outside perspective, it means we’re on the right path. Ryusuke Hamaguchi is younger than me. We’re talking about a 20-year difference at least, and the same can be said of Kōji Fukada, who is competing in this edition of the Venice Festival with Love Life. I am very pleased to see this new generation of Japanese directors grow and become successful. For me it is an amazing thing. Especially because in the past 20 years it’s always been the same old auteurs under the spotlight. We’ve done our best, but fresh blood was needed. With a new generation, we can move forward.
Is the international success you have achieved also present locally in Japan?
If we want to find some kind of fault as well within this success, one has to mention that this visibility is not mirrored in the Japanese industry. On the contrary, there is a rift. The Japanese movie industry up until now has been closed off. As the population decreases, the demand for new movies decreases as well. There are several issues on a local level that, at the moment, are being ignored. This leads to a two-faced element. And that’s how we end up with a deep rift between the artistic evolution in cinematography and stagnation in the industry itself.