Japanese film director ‘full of pride’ over Oscar-nominated film

From right, director Ryusuke Hamaguchi and actors Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masaki Okada and Reika Kirishima are seen in Los Angeles on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.
The Yomiuri Shimbun

LOS ANGELES — Ryusuke Hamaguchi, director of the Oscar-nominated film “Drive My Car,” shared his feelings during a press conference in Los Angeles on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s awards ceremony.

“The fact the film has reached so many people and transcended languages and borders is down to the skill of the actors,” Hamaguchi said, flanked by three of the film’s leading lights, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masaki Okada and Reika Kirishima.

The film has been nominated in four categories for the 94th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Directing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and International Feature Film.

“I’m proud that it’s been warmly received by audiences in many countries,” Hamaguchi said. “I’ll be full of pride tomorrow, too, and I’m looking forward to enjoying [the ceremony] as a movie fan.”

Nishijima, who stars as a stage director grieving over the loss of his wife, said the ceremony attendees comprised “a group of people who love and produce movies.” He added: “It’s not easy to get an invite here. I want to soak everything up and convey my experiences to young people in Japan so they aspire to get here as well.”

Commenting on his involvement in the film, he said: “I listened carefully to what people said, feeling that such an approach would help support others. I think this was unconsciously conveyed to the audience.”

Kirishima, meanwhile, expressed a sense of wonder, saying: “I still can’t believe it. It feels like a dream.”

Okada, too, was enthusiastic. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “I want to meet a lot of people and absorb as much as I can.”

Hamaguchi also spoke about a dinner held for nominees in each award category, saying, “I talked with director Steven Spielberg and everything he said resonated with the history of cinema.”