The award for “Best Direction” at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival actually caps the achievement of a decade for Japan’s Nagisa Oshima. His latest film, “Ai no Borei (Empire of Passion),” a ghostly story of doomed love, saw its world premiere as Japan’s official entry in the most important international film festival, where over 500 films are seen by thousands of critics and industry representatives in an unbelievably hectic two weeks.
Last year the direction award?was not presented at all, but this May 30 Oshima went before the select guests and television cameras at the ceremony with deep bows and palms pressed together in gratitude. Amid the pomp and confusion, his statement was a simple “Arigato gozaimashita.” Much has led up?to Oshima’s receipt of this coveted award, for he is no newcomer to Cannes. “I first came here in 1968 with my film “Koshikei (Death by Hanging),” he reminisced for my benefit at his hotel in Cannes, “because Hayao Shibata (of Shibata Organization/France Eiga-sha in Tokyo) persuaded me to let him try selling my films abroad. It was a good time for me because I had coincidentally been invited to Moscow and Poland, so I came here too. It?was a very harrowing first trip, though, because of the May demonstrations in Paris that year. Having survived that, this is my sixth trip to Cannes in 10 years.” For Oshima, Cannes has provided not only international exposure and acclaim, but a new route toward film production.