It comes as no surprise to hear that the most inspiring film in Samantha Lang's life was "Hiroshima, Mon Amour." "I saw it when I was 16 and must have watched it at least 10 times," says Lang. "I know that film shot by shot, line by line." Echoes of that film's free-spirited and independent heroine, played by Emmanuelle Riva, can be seen in all of Lang's heroines -- in both "The Monkey's Mask" and "The Well" -- as well as in the director herself. Over coffee in Aoyama, she spoke with me about making her sophomore film and the reaction to it.

What was different for you on your second film?

The first time you make a feature film, you work so much on instinct that you're much less self-conscious. You're just doing it like a child learning to walk; you're not thinking about walking, you're just walking. When I made "The Well," I was just a student. I didn't expect anything; I didn't think anyone was ever going to see the film. The second time there was a huge amount of pressure.