Naomi Kawase Flourishes with Miu Miu

For their ongoing film series Women’s Tales, Miu Miu has recruited a series of powerhouse female filmmakers. Their last three installments featured works from Agnès Varda, Alice Rohrwacher, and Miranda July; for their 11th collaboration, which premiered last night with a fête at EN Japanese Brasserie, the brand tapped Japanese director Naomi Kawase (An; Still the Water) to spin her own tale of contemporary femininity.

Kawase’s documentaries and emotional, atmospheric features on daily life in Japan have garnered her prizes at the Cannes and the Locarno Film Festivals. Seed, a kinetic nine-minute short that stars actress Sakura Ando, is an abstracted, myth-like study in learning and becoming, an account of “how the female can live in this society or in the world,” as Kawase explained through a translator when we met earlier this week. Meditative shots of tranquil moving water open the film, set to a soundtrack composed by the band Sakanation. We meet an unnamed, sprite-like girl (Ando), as she emerges from the forest in the historic city of Nara, Kawase’s hometown in southern Japan.

“We don’t know who she is, what creature she is,” Kawase says. Outfitted, naturally, in spring Miu Miu (a gingham blouse, geometric-printed coat, and sheer tulle skirt), the girl cavorts through the forest and a waterfall before encountering a seed. After trading it with a man she encounters for an apple, she finds herself in the chaotic, populated streets of Tokyo, where she meets a homeless man, and, in a tender exchange, gives him an apple and receives a swath of chiffon fabric.

“Before I started shooting this film, the actress and I talked about a lot of things about the world and what’s going on in the universe. The world is having a lot of problems,” Kawase muses. “When I started shooting the actress, upside down and looking at the people, we talked about that there are different points of view. We’re from Japan. America has a different point of view. A female can adapt to a different culture, or a different point of view.” What comes across instantly is Kawase’s take on the resilient curiosity and strength of the female spirit. As Kawase writes in her brief screenplay for the film, which takes the shape of a poem, “See me stand firmly/in this spot on earth. Filled with confidence/and glowing bright.”