I finally got a chance to see Naomi Kawase's 35mm film debut and 1997 Camera d'Or (Best New Director) award winner, Szaku (Moe no suzaku). It is an extremely mature cinematic debut, much like that of her countryman Hirokazu Koreda's debut, Marbosi, the previous year. I see several parallels between the films as well, however, Kawase has her own vision and technique that reflects her past work and expertise in documentary film making and photography. Both films owe something to Ozu in the dialogue and content: there is very little revelatory dialogue--it si mostly greetings and partings and simple everyday small talk (perhaps a reflect of the inscrutable Japanese image) and both films deal with families. Perhaps, Kawase is more traditionally Ozu-like in that her meditation is on the dissolution of a family in the awe-inducing mountains of Nara. I can see the influence of Kurosawa in her film as well when at one climatic point two characters are caught in a downpour, and it is no ordinary downpour--it is Kurosawa-esque in that it is a powerful attention getting effect. Koreda focuses on the brutal coastline of Kanazawa, but nature plays significant roles in both films. Both films have an inexplicable suicide of a father of a family and the questions of how to morn and how to cope with loss and continue to live haunt both films. Furthermore, both directors mange to assemble several powerful images from Koreda's erie bonfire in Marbosi to the illuminated train tunnel in Suzaku. Kawase has assembled a cast of unknowns save for one professional actor Jun Kunimura. Although this became the debut of Machiko Ono, who later went on to a successful acting career. I look forward to seeing her other feature films after such a remarkable debut.