Director Hirokazu Kore-eda turned down an invitation from the culture ministry to celebrate his Palme d’Or victory, following his own snubbing by the prime minister.
Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku) has passed the billion yen ($9 million) mark faster than any other live-action Japanese film at the local box office this year.
The tale of a dysfunctional family of petty criminals, directed by Hirokaza Kore-eda, reached the milestone Tuesday.
Shoplifters opened on June 8, though two days of preview screenings on June 2 and June 3 were added following its triumph at the Cannes festival at the end of May. The film has taken $9.6 million (￥1.05 billion) from 855,000 admissions by Tuesday.
Kore-eda’s previous biggest hit was Like Father, Like Son, which won the Jury Prize in Cannes 2013 and was picked up for a remake by jury president Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks. Like Father, Like Son finished with around $30 million in Japan, which Shoplifters looks set to top.
Kore-eda was not congratulated for his Cannes win by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leading to speculation that the film’s theme of an underclass family was not to the conservative leader’s liking. Following a question in parliament from an opposition lawmaker last week to culture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, an invitation to come to the ministry to celebrate was extended to the director, but Kore-eda declined.
“Looking back at when the film industry was integrated with ‘national interest’ and ‘national policy,’ I am inclined to think that keeping a respectful distance from government authority is the right thing to do, even in peacetime (no matter if it is conservative or liberal),” wrote Kore-eda on his blog, referring to the Japanese film industry being coopted as a propaganda tool up in the lead up to and during the Second World War.
Kore-eda noted he had turned down all requests to participate in official celebrations from organizations and local authorities.