As a person in the film industry whose life and work span both Japan and France, Noemi Nakai hopes to serve as a bridge between the two.
Currently based in London, Nakai is an actress, film director and scriptwriter best known for her role in the 2016 Japanese hit film “Death Note: Light Up the New World.“ She also directed and wrote a short film, “The Last Dream,” a year later.
Born in Japan to a Japanese father and a French mother, Nakai is comfortable with both countries and cultures and is fluent in both languages. She spent her school days in France and went to college in Japan.
Noemi Nakai speaks during an interview at Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday. (CICI)
“I have worked in (the film industries in) Japan and France. (They are) the opposite,” Nakai told The Korea Herald at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday. She was attending the 2018 Culture Communication Forum, hosted by the Corea Image Communication Institute, as a French delegate. “In France, the director is the main piece of the project. Everything he chooses is for his vision or movie. So when you watch a French movie, you can tell who the director is,” Nakai said.
“Whereas in Japan and in Asia, it is more of a group task. Normally it is impossible to tell who the director is. There is a script that exists, and my job is to make it come alive. It’s more about how we can keep the group going,” she said.
Nakai started her acting career in Japan. While she was comfortable with acting, having participated in school plays in France, working in the Japanese film industry was challenging, forcing her to step out of her comfort zone. But the challenge is what attracted her.
“I have been going to theater classes since I was a kid. Growing up in France, it is something that everyone does,” she recounted. “I went to university in Japan and I got an acting job. I thought, ‘Maybe, I don’t have to do it just for fun. Maybe I can do it for work.’”
Like many other actors, as she continued her acting career, she also developed an interest in film directing and scriptwriting. There were creative limits on her as an actor, she recalled. Nakai left Japan and headed to London, a hub of film production, for greater opportunities.
“Acting is fine. If you are a female filmmaker in Japan, it’s very hard for you. So if you are a female actor who is also doing filmmaking, it’s even harder. So that was a little bit too much to handle for me, which is why I am working mainly in Europe now.”
As a person with a multicultural background, she has many thoughts on identity and identity struggles and hopes to bring her perspective as both an insider and an outsider to the Japanese film industry.
By Im Eun-byel (email@example.com