Born in 1985, Hajime Tsuda spent his childhood in Hong Kong and Singapore. While studying at Keio University, he became involved in video and event productions. After starting his career at an event production company, he established his own company CHAMELEONS INC in 2015. As an event creator, he directed and produced many fashion collections and reception parties for prominent fashion brands including Chloe, Nike, Bobbi Brown, and Ugg. He’s been directing one of the biggest Japanese fashion events “GirlsAward” since 2010, and also worked on spatial production and art direction of “Beautycon Tokyo” in 2019.
His directorial feature film debut DAUGHTERS was praised by critics for its beautiful, innovative visuals, thanks to his experience in fashion event productions. It was selected at film festivals around the world, including the 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival where the film won Asian New Talent Award. The film was theatrically released in Japan in 2020.
Find them on social media
10+5 Questions for Hajime Tsuda
“Dreams” by Akira Kurosawa. My father was watching it at home, and I still remember its compelling visual to this day.
The first film I saw in a theater was Disney’s “Lion King.”
“2001: A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick
“Happy Together” by Wong Kar-wai
“There Will Be Blood” by Paul Thomas Anderson
“Floating Weeds” by Yasujirō Ozu
“Amélie” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
“8 1/2” by Federico Fellini
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” by Hayao Miyazaki
Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar-wai, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujirō Ozu, Shunji Iwai, Hayao Miyazaki, Sofia Coppola, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Michel Gondry, etc.
“Amélie” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
“Swallowtail Butterfly” by Shunji Iwai
I can’t think of anyone in particular…
A challenge to my aspiration, a challenge to craftsmanship (or composite art).
Spatial production, event production. (I come from that background.)
My bed. I like sleeping.
This is not limited to Japan, but I have a growing interest in each country’s culture and tradition surrounding death such as Obon and graves.
I hope I will have a couple more films I really want to make under my belt.
ABOUT YOUR FILM “DAUGHTERS“
I like the scene from May where the two protagonists have lunch together.
In my 20s, I was sharing a room with a friend in a downtown area and living a life that really had no clear line between work and play. I made a big transition from that to having a baby with my partner and becoming a father. That lifestyle change inspired me to write this story.
Turning points in life vary from one person to another, but for me, having a child or blood-related offspring was an event big enough to change not only my lifestyle, but also the way I perceived my life and the value of everything in it. I have become much more conscious of “blood ties” and started looking at my parents and ancestors in a different light.
That said, living in Tokyo today, we spend significantly more time with friends than our blood-related parents or relatives. Furthermore, as it’s become a norm for women to work and have a career, I wonder if the concept of marriage between a man and a woman would no longer be necessary as long as you always have good friends around. Thinking idly about myself, people around me, and everyday life in general like that, I started to write for this film. I wanted to visualize those ideas, specifically “what it’s like to live in Tokyo, Japan,” “relationships with others including friends and family,” and “changes and memories in life.”
In terms of film’s structure, I wanted it to be a collection of episodes like Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams” rather than something that flows from beginning to end. So I divided the film by seasons and incorporated flashbacks of their old memories in each one. “Memory” is an important element for me, as I believe our memories make us who we are.
There are many, but if I were to pick just one, that would have to be “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”
I listened to a lot of Fezerdaze, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Fin.
The film is set in Nakameguro, Tokyo. I chose this location simply because I have been living there for about 10 years and I knew the area in each nook and cranny. I was also able to choose where I wanted to shoot without doing research.
At the time of the filming, my office was by the Meguro River and I saw how the row of cherry blossom trees along the river changed across four seasons. An old Japanese essay called “The Ten Foot Square Hut” begins with a passage that takes river currents as an analogy for human living, and I used that as a reference for the film’s narration. Also, “the two women’s lives” that change along with the river’s current was a visual theme I had in mind.
Koharu’s occupation is actually my primary job, and Ayano’s job is what my wife does for living. You will see many things I designed in the film like neon signs Koharu sets up at work as well as the interior of their apartment. We shot Ayano’s office scenes at my wife’s workplace. I wanted to create the “Tokyo” vibe not only through locations but through music. So we used music by various young musicians in Tokyo.
Message to our audience about this film
Hello, my name is Hajime Tsuda, and I’m the director of “Daughters.”
I am grateful that this film was picked up by SAKKA and will be showcased to the American audience.
While the film’s protagonists are two women, it is an autobiographic work for me as it reflects a lot of my personal experiences in my 20s. The film sets in Nakameguro, which is five minutes away from Shibuya by train and where many scenes of “Lost in Translation” were filmed.
I have lived in this town for a while, and this is where the two protagonists share an apartment as the story of “Daughters” begins. Though the filming happened pre-pandemic, I think it still conveys the vibe of today’s Tokyo.
The film observes how relationships with friends and family change when you are about to have a child. That said, I believe everyone can find their own favorite element in the film, such as life in Tokyo, its unique sceneries, Koharu and Ayano’s apartment, visuals of their memories, costumes, music, and so on. So, enjoy!