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True Mothers directed by Naomi Kawase
True Mothers directed by Naomi Kawase

The arrival of the birth mother of their child came as a shock to a young adoptive family in director Naomi Kawase’s emotive drama True Mothers, Japan’s Oscar entry for best international film. The film starring Hiromi Nagasaku, Arata Iura, Aju Makita, Reo Sato, Hiroko Nakajima,Tetsu Hirahara, Ren Komai and Taketo Tanaka premieres via virtual cinema on January 29, 2021.

After a long and unsuccessful struggle to get pregnant, Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku) and her husband Kiyokazu (Arata Iura) decide to adopt a child. Over the next six years, the middle-class couple and their young son, Asato, settle into a comfortable, albeit routine, life. The family’s orderly existence is shattered by the arrival of Hikari (Aju Makita), a young woman claiming to be Asato’s biological mother, demanding his return. As tensions mount, Satoko grows more and more emboldened to defend her family and decides to confront Hikari directly in True Mothers, a universally acclaimed official selection at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival, nominated for a Golden Seashell and Gold Hugo at the San Sebastian and Chicago International Film Festivals, respectively.

Weaving together multiple timelines and genres with a contemplative pacing and keen sense of place, hallmarks of Kawase’s work, True Mothers “is a deeply touching celebration of women who assume duties of love, support and compassion” (Awards Watch).

True Mothers represents the first time that talented Caméra d’Or-winning director Naomi Kawase has represented her country on the Oscar stage (and only the third time from 67 submissions that Japan has been represented by a woman, after Yong-hi Yang for Our Homeland in 2013 and Mipo O for The Light Only Shines There in 2015).

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