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Mayu Nakamura


Mayu earned an MFA from the Graduate Film Program at New York University. In 2006, her first fiction feature, “The Summer of Stickleback,” premiered in the competition section at Busan International Film Festival. In 2012, Mayu directed the documentary feature, “Lonely Swallows–Living as the Children of Migrant Workers,” which follows Japanese Brazilian kids struggling to survive in Japan and Brazil. The film won the Grand Prix in Documentary Features at the Brazilian Film Festival. In 2015, Mayu directed another documentary feature, “Alone in Fukushima.” The film follows the man who stays with animals left behind in the Fukushima nuclear zone. The film was screened in the documentary section at the Montreal World Film Festival. The film’s sequel “Alone Again in Fukushima” was screened at the Yamagata International Film Festival.

Her writing credits include the script for “Tokyo Trial,” a Dutch/Canadian/Japanese scripted series that was nominated for the 45th Emmy Awards for Best TV Movie/Mini-Series. Her thriller feature, “Intimate Stranger” had its world premiere at the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival, in Nippon Cinema Now section. Her latest fiction feature, “She is me, I am her” premiered at the Udine Far East Film Festival in 2023.

Selected Filmography

“Alone Again in Fukushima” (2023, documentary feature) Director
She is me, I am her” (2022, narrative feature) Writer/Director
Intimate Stranger” (2021, narrative feature) Writer/Director
“Alone Again in Fukushima 2020” (2021, documentary feature) Director
“Among Four of Us” (2021, narrative short) Writer/Director
“Tokyo Trial” (2016, scripted series) Writer
“Alone in Fukushima.” (2015, documentary feature) Director
“Lonely Swallows–Living as the Children of Migrant Workers” (2012, documentary feature) Director
“The Summer of Stickleback” (2006, narrative feature) Writer/Director

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10+5 Questions for Mayu Nakamura

1. What is the first film in your memory?
I love the films by Andrey Tarkovsky. I like “The Mirror” and “Nostalgia” which I saw when I was about 14 years old.

2. What are some of your favorite films?
I love “Dekalog” by Krzysztof Kieslowski, particularly, “A Short Film about Love.” I also love “Opening Nights” and “A Woman Under the Influence” by John Cassavetes.

3. Which creators have you been inspired by or influenced by?
I was influenced by an American short story writer, Raymond Carver, particularly for “She is me, I am her”.

4. What are the films that shook your world or changed your life?
Wong Kar Wai’s “The Days of Being Wild” blew me away when I was a teenager.

5. Are there any Japanese directors of your generation you are inspired by?
I love films by Mikio Naruse, and some films by Kore-eda, such as “Nobody Knows” and “After Life.” I also love Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Cure.”

6. What does filmmaking mean to you?
Filmmaking is my life and what inspires me most.

7. What are you interested in outside of films and filmmaking?
I love traveling and exploring new places, meeting different people, and learning about different cultures.

8. Where’s your happy place?
I guess I am the happiest in the cinema or the bookstore.

9. What are the customs or phenomena that are unique to Japan that you want other people to know?
I think the Japanese word “otsukaresama” is often translated as “a good job” and is a word that shows care for another person, which is really touching.

10. Where would you be in 10 years?
I will be living between Japan and the U.S. I will be making films in both countries and beyond.


1. What is your favorite moment in the film? (no spoilers)
I love the moment the moon shows up behind clouds in “Among Four of Us.” The film was shot in one night in the park. We only had six hours to shoot the film. The weather was unstable, and it kept drizzling, but the moon miraculously appeared at the end of the shoot.

2. Why did you decide to write/make this film?
I wanted to make a film about the pandemic since it was a disaster that everyone experienced and could relate to around the world. It started with one short film “Among Four of Us.” The film did well in a festival circuit. So, we decided to make it into an omnibus feature film.

3. Were there any films that you watched as a reference or a source of inspiration?
I don’t have a particular film that I used as a reference for this film.

4. Was there any music you were listening to or book you were reading while you were making this film?
Ever since I was a student at NYU grad film, I wanted to make a short film as good as a short story written by Raymond Carver. Now I am older, I think I can make bitter-sweet adult short films.

5. Any fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes or episodes you’d like to share?
“Ms. Ghost” is based on the real story of a homeless woman who was battered to death at the bus stop during the pandemic. The same story was turned into a feature film by a Japanese auteur Banmei Takahashi. Incidentally, we used the same bus stop for the shoot though I shot my film earlier than his.

Message to our audience about this film

In November 2020, a sixty-year-old homeless woman was battered to death at a bus stop in Tokyo. She became homeless after losing her job due to the COVID crisis. The incident sparked outcries from many women who have unsteady jobs, they went on marches, saying “She is me, I am her!”, protesting the self-reliance policy of the current government.

Since the COVID crisis started, I have been thinking about loneliness and people’s desire for connection and tried to portray those feelings in my films. I was deeply concerned about how this crisis hit many women severely.

By having one brilliant, mercurial actress, Nahana play the roles of various women, I try to portray how many women share these sentiments in different circumstances.