Two beautiful, heartfelt stories by award-winning, rule-breaking director Tatsushi Omori.
Tatsushi Omori has made a career of pushing boundaries on the screen—from defying deities in The Whispering of the Gods to bending stereotypes and exploring the nature of gendered positions in Japanese society in his latest films. Omori premiered two films to North American audiences at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival in June: When My Mom Died, I Wanted to Eat Her Ashes (WMMD) and Every Day a Good Day (EDAGD). Both films focus on telling stories steeped in emotions—moving forward after hardship and not looking for quick answers to life’s problems.
Omori describes WMMD as a story about the cycle of life in Japan, how people perceive death, and how the family left behind copes with loss. It’s a film that shows raw grief, crying and broken men. The characters break down with very real emotions—a stark contrast to the stereotypical stoic Japanese male who is expected to stand strong and support his family during a crisis.
Omori released EDAGD in October 2018, and explained that it is about a young woman who finds difficulty navigating adulthood—relationships, work life, grief and regrets—and learns to cope by perfecting her skill at performing traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The film explores a women’s experience in Japan and encourages us to question their typically inferior position in Japanese society—within which women are often expected to give up their interests and careers when they get married and have children.
Both films are based on personal reminiscences. WMMD was originally a manga written by an artist based on his own experience coping with his mother’s death, while the screenplay for EDAGD is based on Noriko Morishita’s bestselling personal essays written during her turbulent 20s, 30s and 40s. Creating these types of stories comes naturally to Omori. When he was younger, he created stories about youth and energy, but, he shares, now as he is getting older and experiencing the joys and disappointments that come with age, he finds that he’s interested in making films about family, death, work life and overcoming adversity. He cares about the characters in the film and frames the stories around their experiences. When creating his films, Omori often doesn’t decide how the story ends or peaks, respecting the actor’s interpretation of the script, and allowing the actors to play within their surroundings. He doesn’t give detailed orders at the shoot, letting them act as they need to in order to tell the story. He’s fascinated with how the characters move and live through their journey within the story.
EDAGD reflects on the process of learning, and that it can take a long time to master a skill. It’s not something that can be Googled and instantly acquired. Grieving is a similar process—it can take time to come to terms with significant losses in our lives. Omori emphasizes that the important things in life can take time, and we learn to appreciate many things as we age and experience life—even insignificant moments like enjoying a sweet strawberry or sipping tea from a hand-painted bowl used once in a 12-year lunar calendar cycle.
Through these emotional, heartbreaking stories, Omori not only encourages us to take time to appreciate life, but also asks us to reconsider what is ‘normal’ and ‘expected.’
When My Mom Died, I Wanted to Eat Her Ashes
Release date: February 22, 2019
Director: Tatsushi Omori
Starring: Ken Yasuda, Mitsuko Baisho, Nao Matsushita, Jun Murakami and Renji Ishibashi
More info: bokuiko-movie.asmik-ace.co.jp (Japanese language only)
Every Day a Good Day
Release date: October 13, 2018
Director: Tatsushi Omori
Starring: Kirin Kiki, Haru Kuroki and Mikako Tabe
More info: www.nichinichimovie.jp (Japanese language only)