Like Mizoguchi, Naruse saw life as a crushing fate, and it was for him too the position of women in society that best expressed the claustrophobia and resentment we feel about our lot. Yet unlike Mizoguchi, still less like Ozu, Naruse allowed no moments of stillness, no redemption through the expanse of subsuming nature, no recognition of the rightness of order. Naruse found no quasi-religious reconciliation to the sorrow of living, and in his films showed only the confirmation of what he himself said of the human condition: “From the youngest age, I have thought that the world we live in betrays us; this thought remains with me.”

Despite this bleak view on the part of the director, however, the determined characters of the Naruse film never give up. A stubborn dedication to their own self-respect in the face of overwhelming crassness, vulgarity and exploitation from even those who should be most sensitive and protective toward the individual lends Naruse’s heroines a distinctive nobility. […] The Naruse heroine can be seen as a symbol for everyone who has ever been caught between ideals and reality, making do with something unsatisfying, as in Repast (1951) or Tsuruhachi and Tsurujiro (1938), going without because all ideals have been crushed but self-respect remains, as in Late Chrysanthemums (1954) or When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960), or retaining a determination to realize the ideal against all odds, as in Lightning (1952) or Flowing (1956). All of these approaches to coping with life’s disappointments and betrayals strike a familiar chord in viewers around the world, and therein lies Naruse’s uniqueness.

These neutral conclusions, neither sad nor happy endings which have been called “inconclusive” by some critics, would not be possible without Naruse’s uniquely subtle technique. Without the quiet style in which they are couched, many of the stories of Naruse’s films, such as the late melodramas Yearning (1965) and Scattered Clouds (1967), would be maudlin and undistinguished. But the criticism the late Shochiku studio head Shiro Kido leveled against Naruse, “His films have no ups and downs; the tone is too flat”, reveals the consistent subtlety of the director’s technique. As with the films of Ozu, the Naruse film rejects plot in favor of character. Akira Kurosawa counters Kido’s remarks with a description of Naruse’s style as “like a great river with a calm surface and a raging current in its depths.”

Audie Bock on Mikio Naruse (August 20, 1905 — July 2, 1969)

"There are always bits of myself in my films but sometimes people don’t know that. I used to feel very distant from my films. In my earlier films, I really kept myself out of the picture. But now every film is more or less a personal experience, from dreams or from people close to me. That’s why I keep making films in certain locations. They are mostly places where I cherish my childhood memories. I keep revisiting them to try to—how do you say—reinterpret my memories. […] I think this is one of the reasons I make films: my personal memories are always interwoven with those from various other sources, reading, listening and traveling (my own travels and those of others). It was hard then to remember the real past clearly, so I made films without knowing how true they really were. This was an important detail; it was like waking the dead and giving them a new soul, making them walk once more. It is the same when writing, sometimes it is just our imagination, arising from our desire to remember, as Gabriel García Márquez wrote: ‘The memory is clear but there is no possibility that it is true.’" — Apichatpong Weerasethakul

"It would be the best of all, you know, if once in one of my pictures, only one human being had got something out of it for his life, for his daily life or for his future. I would be happy. That is the whole reason. If people use my pictures, it doesn’t matter if they are angry or aggressive or critical, but just that they are emotionally involved with my pictures. That is the only thing that is important to me."

Ingmar Bergman
July 14, 1918 — July 30, 2007

"After Thieves Like Us, I was finally taken seriously. Robert Altman told me: You’re not just instinctual, you are an actress, a very good actress… That was a very, very emotional moment for me. I guess it gave me the confidence to think I could go out and work for other directors as well… If I had listened to everyone who told me no, I’d never have gotten anything accomplished. When I really believe in something and someone says, ‘You can’t do it,’ it just spurs me on… Life is all about movement, and when you stop moving, you’re dead! That’s my big philosophy—it’s all about motion. Life can change in the blinking of an eye, so you just have to appreciate every minute and keep going.” — Shelley Duvall

"When I make a film, it is a sleep in which I am dreaming."

Jean Cocteau
July 5, 1889 — October 11, 1963


[Veronika Voss] was your fortieth film. I have the feeling many people see you as a hamster in an exercise wheel, constantly under pressure to produce. Do you see it that way, too?
Well, there are two factors here. First, I don’t work more than other people, more than someone stamping out cans in a factory, or the like. I just work all year long; I don’t take as many vacations as the others in the industry. That’s one side of it. The other side is that I really have a drive that’s hard to explain—it makes me have to do things, and I’m actually only happy when I’m doing things, and that’s my drug, if you will… When I was very small I already knew I was supposed to make many films. I can only tell you that when I shot my first take it was more fantastic than the most fantastic orgasm I ever had. That was a feeling, indescribable.
Rainer Werner FassbinderMay 31, 1945 — June 10, 1982

[Veronika Voss] was your fortieth film. I have the feeling many people see you as a hamster in an exercise wheel, constantly under pressure to produce. Do you see it that way, too?

Well, there are two factors here. First, I don’t work more than other people, more than someone stamping out cans in a factory, or the like. I just work all year long; I don’t take as many vacations as the others in the industry. That’s one side of it. The other side is that I really have a drive that’s hard to explain—it makes me have to do things, and I’m actually only happy when I’m doing things, and that’s my drug, if you will… When I was very small I already knew I was supposed to make many films. I can only tell you that when I shot my first take it was more fantastic than the most fantastic orgasm I ever had. That was a feeling, indescribable.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
May 31, 1945 — June 10, 1982


Your approach to filmmaking is very personal, do you worry how audiences will connect to the work?
Naomi Kawase: Instead of being stopped by the fear of not being understood what is more important to me is the act of making the film and the hope that the people watching the film will understand the strong will with which I make the film. So I overcome this fear by doing it and believing that my wish to reach the audience will be fulfilled.

Your approach to filmmaking is very personal, do you worry how audiences will connect to the work?

Naomi Kawase: Instead of being stopped by the fear of not being understood what is more important to me is the act of making the film and the hope that the people watching the film will understand the strong will with which I make the film. So I overcome this fear by doing it and believing that my wish to reach the audience will be fulfilled.

Satyajit Ray designing, rehearsing, shooting, editing, and scoring his films from the late 1960s through the 1980s as captured by photographer Nemai Ghosh.


"In a certain way I create images like a painter, thus projecting my vision on a canvas. I do not pretend to describe reality; I create my own vision that I project on reality. The result is something in-between. The question I am asking myself all the time is: How can I transform personal experience into poetry? […] I know that my work is difficult for the mainstream public, but I make these films anyway, because it’s the best that I can do. Every director in the world would like to have the largest possible audience. You get there or you don’t. You have to be content with your own audience, whatever it is."
Theo AngelopoulosApril 27, 1935 — January 24, 2012

"In a certain way I create images like a painter, thus projecting my vision on a canvas. I do not pretend to describe reality; I create my own vision that I project on reality. The result is something in-between. The question I am asking myself all the time is: How can I transform personal experience into poetry? […] I know that my work is difficult for the mainstream public, but I make these films anyway, because it’s the best that I can do. Every director in the world would like to have the largest possible audience. You get there or you don’t. You have to be content with your own audience, whatever it is."

Theo Angelopoulos
April 27, 1935 — January 24, 2012


Grégoire Colin"What I love about working with Claire is that she lets the actor imbue the character with everything he is at a given moment. She never gives orders; she offers a critique of what she’s seen."
Jim Jarmusch"Her films can be very poetic, but they’re never precious. They can be very funny but never silly or dumb. Somehow they remain observational, always. And the camera, it’s like music that never has extra notes in it that aren’t needed."
Isaach De Bankolé"I met Claire a long time ago, back in 1987 when she was about to do her first feature Chocolat. When I read Chocolat, I was surprised that it was written by a white girl from France. When I read it, it sounded like someone who really knows how the blood circulates in the African body. She leaves a lot of room for input and improvisation but at the same time, she really knows what she wants… I’ve been very blessed to meet these people and to work with them because they have a special vision, whether it’s Claire Denis or Jim Jarmusch. When they write for the black they don’t write because they’re black they write for the character and that’s the difference between them and many other directors. It’s a pleasure to work for a director who has that vision and who can at the same time have trust in me.”
Alex Descas"I think that she has a great attention to detail and a very particular way of filming and shooting. She tries to capture everything from the décor to the character’s precise body movement… but also gives actors the freedom to interpret their characters. One might even say that in her own way, Claire is a choreographer."
Chiara Mastroianni"Despite the violence or the despair of what she’s shooting, the way she shoots it is always with love. Even when Claire gets really dark, there’s so much light in her."
Agnès Godard"Claire has a very honed relationship with the images that has evolved over time. She has the faith and the belief that an association of ideas that’s concise and that is based on pure cinematography—the choice of a frame, a focal point, the climate of the light—says something, and the idea that gluing those images together is going to create a sense."
Isabelle Huppert"The way she works is the way she lives. Working with Claire, you have to be really available—you have to let yourself go into her rhythm. She’s very creative. She’s like a painter. She gives me the feeling that she has a vision and you have to be the witness to that vision. You don’t want to ask her too direct questions—’Why do you do this?’ ‘What do you have in mind?’—these things I would never ask her. You just have to trust her and follow her."
Stuart Staples"When we made the music for Nénette et Boni, we made it like a band watching a film and then decorating it, giving it texture. A few years later, on the next film we worked on, I said to Claire, ‘I’ve realized I don’t really know how to make music for films,’ and she said, ‘That’s all right, I don’t know how to make films.’ I think that has been the basis of our work together—fundamentally we don’t know what we are doing, but we do know what we hear, what we see and what we feel, and we take it from there. Claire is always looking for a reaction to what she is making—she gives people she works with the freedom to appraise what she is doing.”

Grégoire Colin
"What I love about working with Claire is that she lets the actor imbue the character with everything he is at a given moment. She never gives orders; she offers a critique of what she’s seen."

Jim Jarmusch
"Her films can be very poetic, but they’re never precious. They can be very funny but never silly or dumb. Somehow they remain observational, always. And the camera, it’s like music that never has extra notes in it that aren’t needed."

Isaach De Bankolé
"I met Claire a long time ago, back in 1987 when she was about to do her first feature Chocolat. When I read Chocolat, I was surprised that it was written by a white girl from France. When I read it, it sounded like someone who really knows how the blood circulates in the African body. She leaves a lot of room for input and improvisation but at the same time, she really knows what she wants… I’ve been very blessed to meet these people and to work with them because they have a special vision, whether it’s Claire Denis or Jim Jarmusch. When they write for the black they don’t write because they’re black they write for the character and that’s the difference between them and many other directors. It’s a pleasure to work for a director who has that vision and who can at the same time have trust in me.”

Alex Descas
"I think that she has a great attention to detail and a very particular way of filming and shooting. She tries to capture everything from the décor to the character’s precise body movement… but also gives actors the freedom to interpret their characters. One might even say that in her own way, Claire is a choreographer."

Chiara Mastroianni
"Despite the violence or the despair of what she’s shooting, the way she shoots it is always with love. Even when Claire gets really dark, there’s so much light in her."

Agnès Godard
"Claire has a very honed relationship with the images that has evolved over time. She has the faith and the belief that an association of ideas that’s concise and that is based on pure cinematography—the choice of a frame, a focal point, the climate of the light—says something, and the idea that gluing those images together is going to create a sense."

Isabelle Huppert
"The way she works is the way she lives. Working with Claire, you have to be really available—you have to let yourself go into her rhythm. She’s very creative. She’s like a painter. She gives me the feeling that she has a vision and you have to be the witness to that vision. You don’t want to ask her too direct questions—’Why do you do this?’ ‘What do you have in mind?’—these things I would never ask her. You just have to trust her and follow her."

Stuart Staples
"When we made the music for Nénette et Boni, we made it like a band watching a film and then decorating it, giving it texture. A few years later, on the next film we worked on, I said to Claire, ‘I’ve realized I don’t really know how to make music for films,’ and she said, ‘That’s all right, I don’t know how to make films.’ I think that has been the basis of our work together—fundamentally we don’t know what we are doing, but we do know what we hear, what we see and what we feel, and we take it from there. Claire is always looking for a reaction to what she is making—she gives people she works with the freedom to appraise what she is doing.”