Shunji Iwai has long stood on ambivalent terrain. To Western audiences he's known as a prolific and brilliant auteur, but without the overseas cachet of others such as Takeshi Kitano. To his fans in Japan, he's viewed as the spokesman for the socially conscious hipster — the one director who manages to romanticize the general boredom and mild claustrophobia felt by Japanese youths, without resorting to splashy violence and sex.
His latest film, "A Bride for Rip Van Winkle" ("Rip Van Winkle no Hanayome") can be described as classic Iwai — full of gorgeous visual imagery depicting a story of the dark side of married life and how money is often a defining factor of social rituals and (supposed) love relationships.
"A Bride for Rip Van Winkle" and four other Iwai titles are being shown at this year's Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) as part of Japan Now section. TIFF's program adviser Kohei Ando said during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club: "One of the missions of Japan Now is for the foreign audience to get in touch with contemporary aesthetics of modern Japanese culture. And this year, we decided that the works of director Shunji Iwai are the best fit. Personally speaking, 'A Bride for Rip Van Winkle' made me proud to be born in this country."