MIPCOM delegates will have a unique opportunity to attend the World Premiere TV Screening of The Return, a two-hour historical epic, shot in 8K and based on a story by novelist Shuhei Fujisawa. It stars Tatsuya Nakadai, Takako Tokiwa and Jiro Sato.
Takako Tokiwa, who plays the female lead, is attending MIPCOM alongside Sato. She told MIPCOM News she feels blessed to be working with Tatsuya Nakadai, who has starred in numerous films directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. “It’s really a great honour for me to be working with such a major, world-famous artist,” she said. “I was really impressed with the exceptional power he brought to his character.”
In terms of her own character, Tokiwa said part of the appeal is that she is a very independent and strong-willed woman, despite being isolated and alone: “Even when she was a child, she tried to hide her loneliness. She felt she had to be strong though she was alone. That’s why she was so hard on herself.”
The Return is directed and co-written by Shigemichi Sugita, president of Nihon Eiga Broadcasting, which operates Samurai Drama Channel. Sugita has directed more than 100 TV dramas and films, including the Warner Bros. 2010 movie The Last Ronin, and popular TV drama series From A Northern Country. Tokiwa said working with the highly-respected Sugita was emotionally challenging and made a deep impression. “Mr. Sugita’s direction was very precise. He would often call for extra takes of a scene, and sometimes those scenes involved crying and screaming. Many members of the crew worried about my state of mind.”
Tokiwa said her approach to acting for a TV drama was subtly different from that for a movie. “When people watch TV they are often doing something else at the same time,” she explained. “A movie audience concentrates all their attention on the screen, so when I act on TV I try to make my actions easier to understand.”
Since the drama is being shown to an international audience, Tokiwa believes it’s a good opportunity for non-Japanese people to learn something of Japanese life. “I hope they can get a feeling for Japan, which is not always an easy country to understand. I think viewers will take away the beauty of the Japanese soul.”
The Return World Premiere Screening takes place Tuesday, October 15, 11.30, Auditorium A. This is an advance extract from the MIPCOM News Issue 1; full version online soon!