Cinema as a time machine

Naomi Kawase during a TEDxTokyo talk in 2012.(photo: John Fornehed)

Naomi Kawase during a TEDxTokyo talk in 2012 (Photo: John Fornehed)

The Cannes Film Festival kicks off for the 69th time today. It’s arguably the most prestigious film festival in the world and certainly one of the most glamorous. Naomi Kawase, a Japanese filmmaker, has an impressive history at the festival. Apart from premiering a number of her films at Cannes, in 1997, she became the youngest winner of the “Caméra d’Or” (Best New Director) award, and in 2013, served as a member of the main competition jury and — last year — acted as the president of the jury for the short film category.

She also gave a talk at TEDxTokyo in 2012 about the power of cinema.

When Kawase was an infant, her parents separated; she was eventually adopted and raised by her great aunt and uncle, she says in her talk, given in Japanese and translated into English. As a result, she often thought about her life’s purpose. “I always wondered, ‘Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life?’” she says. “Then, film came into my life, making a sound like, ‘rattle, rattle, rattle,’ — recording and memorizing what we see.”

For Kawase, film is a kind of time machine capable of taking us back to the past.

“Time is passing through everybody at the same speed, ticking one second at a time,” she says. “The time that has passed will never come back again, while each clip of a film records every second and enables us to rewind time.”

Check out her entire talk below:

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