Kurosawa: I didn't need great courage to make film on Japan's wartime crime

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonhap) — Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa said Monday that it didn’t take a great deal of courage to make his Venice-winning film that directly deals with his country’s wartime atrocities.

“It didn’t require strong determination or bravery,” the prolific director said in an official press conference for “Wife of a Spy” at the 25th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). “I just thought I have to tell the story based on historical facts.”

The winner of best director at this year’s Venice International Film Festival is the first period film by Kurosawa, who is well known for horror and genre movies featuring ghosts in modern Japan.

Set in the city of Kobe in early 1940s in the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Warld War II, the film depicts Yusaku (Issey Takahashi), a wealthy businessman who maps out his own espionage activities after witnessing the Japanese military’s biological and chemical warfare research on humans in Manchuria.

His wife, Satoko (Yu Aoi), joins his plan to reveal the wartime atrocities to the wider world.

“I’ve made a lot of films set in modern days. But it is hard to tell what is correct and what is wrong in these stories of today,” he said during the news conference streamed online. “But when I chose to picture the past that is not so far from the present, I now know what is true and not as it is the history.”

This image provided by the 25th Busan International Film Festival shows a scene from "Wife of a Spy." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

He said his work would be regarded as a deviation in the Japanese film industry where there are few movies that depict the controversial past and the country’s war crimes. “Wife of a Spy” hit Japanese theaters on Oct. 16.

“I know people have hardly seen this kind of Japanese film,” he said. “I didn’t need great determination to make it or care much as for how it will be received in Japan.”

But he noted that he has not disclosed the truth that has been covered up for a long time and did not try to send a political message through the movie. Instead, he said he just wanted to make an entertaining war-period drama with suspense and romance.

“My film does not judge the way the past and the present are related. My role is to show that something happened at that time and time went by,” he said. “I hope each person makes their own judgment after watching the movie.”

This year’s BIFF runs from Oct. 21-30.

This image provided by the 25th Busan International Film Festival shows a scene from "Wife of a Spy." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa in this photo provided by the 25th Busan International Film Festival (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)