Q&A with Marc Yamada, author of KORE-EDA HIROKAZU

Marc Yamada, author of Kore-eda Hirokazu, answers questions on his new book.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?  

I have always loved Kore-eda’s films, but it wasn’t until I spoke with Jennifer Fay, one of the editors of the Contemporary Film Directors Series at the University of Illinois Press, that I decided to write a book on his films. During a visit to the university where I teach, Jennifer encouraged me to submit a proposal to the Contemporary Film Directors Series for a manuscript on the Japanese filmmaker. 

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn? 

While a number of critical works on Kore-eda’s films have appeared over the past few decades, much of this scholarship reinforces the identification of Kore-eda’s films as manifestations of the values of traditional Japanese cinema. I feel that foregrounding the “Japaneseness” of his films misses an opportunity to consider the way his work is shaped by issues and conditions that extend across cultural boundaries and impact other capitalist traditions around the world. 

Q: Which part of the publishing process did you find the most interesting?  

I really enjoyed watching and rewatching all of Kore-eda’s television programs, documentaries, and feature films. I watched them all during the first summer of the pandemic in 2020, when I had plenty of time and not a lot to do. My research assistant, Dewey Walter, watched the films along with me and we would meet once a week over the phone or Zoom, and discuss the insights and patterns we recognized in his films. It was such a rich experience and most of the ideas for the book came from this time.  

Q: What is your advice to scholars/authors who want to take on a similar project? 

I think the best advice that I have heard is to write on something that you are passionate about as opposed to a topic that you think would be well received in the field. You spend around three to four years or more writing a book, so you really have to love the topic or you’ll lose interest along the way and the quality of the work will suffer.  

Marc Yamada is an associate professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brigham Young University. He is the author of Locating Heisei in Japanese Fiction and Film: The Historical Imagination of the Lost Decades.

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