• Kyodo


A French translator in Shizuoka Prefecture played an important role in helping Naomi Kawase’s “Mogari no Mori” (“The Mourning Forest”) win the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Francois Delvart, who has never met Kawase, translated the film’s outline and script from Japanese to French when the film director had trouble securing finances and made a joint production proposal to a French film firm.

Delvart, 38, who came to Japan about 12 years ago to study martial arts, said he had received a request from one of his acquaintances in Tokyo.

“How to deal with an aging society and nursing care is also a big issue in France,” Delvart said. “The story about how a care provider and a person receiving care come to understand each other made me think.”

“Mogari no Mori” is about a man with dementia who lives in a small nursing home and a female care provider who lost her child.

By wandering together in a forest in search of the man’s wife’s grave, they realize they are connected to their deceased loved ones.

Delvart, who has become well-versed in Japanese culture, including karate and calligraphy, said he learned about Japanese people’s view of life and death by reading books by philosopher Takeshi Umehara.

Delvart said his experience of mountain climbing in Nara Prefecture — where Kawase was born and the film is based — also made it easier for him to translate the scenario.

“I want to meet director Kawase and visit the shooting locations of the film,” he said.

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For related stories:

‘Mourning’ turns into celebration
Doing it her own way — Kawase’s determined path to success

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