Thirty years ago, the Japanese television drama Oshin, which aired in Viet Nam and 85 other countries, affected millions of viewers, who often shed tears. Oshin features young Oshin who is sent off by her impoverished farming family to another town to work as a babysitter and live-in servant at the age of seven. Over one particularly harsh winter, she makes some friends but also gets bullied. But no matter what happens, she bravely soldiers on.
The 2013 remake was shown at the recent Japanese Film Festival in HCM City.
Togashi Shin, director of Oshin (2013), told Culture Vulture after the film was screened that he wants to inspire young people.
How do you see the role of your film in Viet Nam-Japan cultural exchange programmes?
This is my first trip to Viet Nam. The event helps to promote Vietnamese people's interest in Japanese culture, especially the film industry. I know that the Vietnamese love the film and people use the word "Oshin" to talk about live-in household helpers.
I eagerly look forward to feedback from Vietnamese audiences. My main audience for this film is children.
Television drama Oshin has been popular for 30 years. Why did you decide to remake this film?
I want to educate youth and give them more courage to live. The suicide rate of young people has risen, and the losses incurred by the tsunami two years ago in Japan encouraged me to make this film as a message to young people. I hope the film will bring more courage to Japanese youth.
You selected a girl for the main role. How did you choose her?
Before making the film I thought I must find a girl who can act well. I advertised in local media.
Finally I chose eight-year-old Kokone Hamada as the leading character from 2,461 child actresses, the most challenging task for the film. She was not very skilled in acting, but I saw that she was innocent and had a cheerful personality.
Was there any difficulty while making the film?
Giving instruction to an eight-year-old girl in acting was not easy. I spent a long time training her.
During 53 days of shooting, I forced her not to contact her parents by mobilephone. I tried to create favourable conditions for her to act. Finally, she was able to express the mood of the girl in the film successfully.
Why did you feature only Oshin's childhood in your film?
The legendary life story of this Japanese woman is very long, but her images as a teenager impressed audiences deeply.
Her childhood was the most impressive to audiences. I would like to make a second and third chapter of the story if this film is welcomed by international audiences. — VNS