Hamaguchi Ryusuke's 'Evil Does Not Exist' aims for Venice Film Festival's top prize

Oscar-winning Japanese director Hamaguchi Ryusuke's latest film "Evil Does Not Exist" is garnering acclaim at the Venice International Film Festival, where it has become the only Asian film this year in the running for the top Golden Lion prize. The winner will be announced on Saturday.

Huge success with 'Drive My Car'

Hamaguchi took home the award for Best Screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Hamaguchi Ryusuke attained global recognition as a talented director and screenplay writer with his last film, "Drive My Car." The movie is an adaptation of a short story by novelist Murakami Haruki. It won Hamaguchi the award for Best Screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, and then went on to win Best International Feature at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Latest work garners praise at Venice

Hamaguchi's latest film is his first to be nominated for competition at Venice. "Evil Does Not Exist" is about a plan to build a camp near a village in a rich natural environment where the protagonist lives. It delves into the consequences that the construction will have on the village's water resources and the area's ecosystem.

At the official screening and world premiere on Monday, the audience gave a standing ovation for more than seven minutes. After the screening, an Italian journalist praised the film, saying, "Hamaguchi deserves an award for his visual storytelling abilities, for the intensity of the story itself and for the emotion that the film arouses."

Honored to convey the excellence of the cast

In an interview with NHK on Wednesday, Hamaguchi said he was relieved by the film's warm welcome at the official screening, and felt honored that the film was able to convey the excellence of the cast.

Like his previous film, 2015's "Happy Hour," protagonists Hamaguchi selected had no film acting experience. Asked how he supported these cast members, he said that when he has chosen the right people, they do not require any particular advice.

"I think that casting is almost everything. I believe that when actors are chosen who have the same mentality as the characters, they can gradually develop the role on their own. They come to know more about the character than anyone else. Once this happens, the actors start to perform on their own, and use spontaneous interpretations. Then they can just start to improvise as they go along," he said. "I feel that my role is to tell them that this will happen, and to keep saying that everything will be alright if you're there."

The winners of the top prizes will be announced on Saturday.