What we learned from The Truth Q&A with director Hirokazu Kore-eda

Renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest The Truth had it’s Australian premiere this weekend, at a special event at Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, with the director himself in attendance. We were lucky enough to be in the audience for a post-screening Q&A with the director, headed up by film critic David Stratton, and we’ve got all the (spoiler-free) details!

Best known for his critically acclaimed efforts about the theme of family including Still Walking (2008), I Wish (2011), Like Father, Like Son (2013) and his last effort, the Oscar-nominated Shoplifters (2018), Kore-eda proved to be as warm and charming as his films.

  • Kore-eda had found filmmaking in France (his first film in an entirely different language) surprisingly smooth, thanks to the talents of the cast and crew. He gave special thanks to his wonderful interpreter, who he had met at a film festival in Marrakesh five years ago. He joked that she got to know him and the film so well that she could have easily take over his directing/promoting duties.
  • His only real issue with filming in France was adjusting to the different work schedules. In Japan, there are no work unions, and so a 24-hour day isn’t all that unusual on set. In France, the work schedules were a lot more manageable. In fact, that lead actress Catherine Deneuve does not turn up to set before noon!

  • The inspiration for the film to be made in France came about when Kore-eda met up with lead actress Juliette Binoche over lunch – featuring some very bad sushi – and discussing ideas over what their first collaboration chould be. The film finally started to come together in around 2011, and was based on a play Kore-eda wrote more than 15 years ago.
  • While developing The Truth, Kore-eda found that, when it comes to family, the French generally love to divulge in conflict whereas the Japanese tend to sidestep it.
  • The script was written with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke in mind – even though Kore-eda’s French staff told him it was unlikely to work out that way.
  • A dancing sequence after the characters leave the restaurant came about when Kore-eda joked that the Japanese would not do such a thing, so he naturally made sure his French characters did!

  • Kore-eda praised child actress Clémentine Grenier as “incredibly relaxed”, especially in the presence of Deneuve, though he did concede that that might have been because Grenier had no idea who she was! When directing children, Kore-eda never gives them the script and just tells what to say before shooting.

  • During editing, Kore-eda (and his wonderful interpreter) studied the dynamics of French dialogue, in order to get the flow as precise as he wanted.
  • The science-fiction story for the film-within-the-film, Memories of My Mother, was based on a short story by Ken Yu, a Chinese science-fiction writer. That short story was originally based on Cathedral by Raymond Carver.
Photo courtesy of Palace Films.

Our thanks to Palace Films for inviting us to the screening, and of course to Hirokazu Kore-eda for his time!

The Truth will be out in Australian cinemas Boxing Day.


Harris Dang

Rotten Tomatoes-approved Film Critic. Also known as that handsome Asian guy you see in the cinema with a mask on.