By Hanna Rantala and Miranda Murray
CANNES (Reuters) – Most directors would be thrilled to have one film shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Wim Wenders has two.
“Perfect Days” – the German auteur’s 10th contender for the festival’s top prize – is sharing the programme with a special screening of “Anselm”, his 3D study of German artist Anselm Kiefer.
The films are worlds apart in subject matter, but one led to the other. Wenders told Reuters in an interview he had time on his hands during post-production on “Anselm” so decided to visit Japan.
“And before I knew it, we’re making a movie in Japan,” he said.
The result, “Perfect Days”, premiers on Thursday, starring acclaimed Japanese actor Koji Yakusho as a toilet cleaner in Tokyo.
The film follows its main character around as he works, reads books and listens to music. Through a series of encounters, viewers learn more about his past.
Cannes organizers liked the “spontaneous” work, which came together in just a few months, and wanted to show it, Wenders said.
“I didn’t say no because I thought, ‘Well, I know about being in Cannes, but I’ve never been here with two films, so it’ll be an experience,'” he said.
Wenders – who has been nominated for an Oscar for best documentary feature three times with “Buena Vista Social Club” in 2000, “Pina” in 2012 and “The Salt of the Earth” in 2015 – said he jumped at the chance to work with Yakusho.
They had no problem communicating despite a language barrier.
“We only did it with eyes and little gestures. And that was the perfect language,” he said. “There had never been an actor who took my directions so well, because I couldn’t use words.”
By comparison, “Anselm” is more of an experience than a film, Wenders said.
Kiefer’s work often focuses on how the visual and verbal propaganda of Nazi Germany affected the country’s culture and history after the Second World War.
“I think I took people into Anselm’s world,” said Wenders.
It’s a world “from under the earth and from history and from our common history, which is, of course, post-war Germany. So it’s also an archaeological film. It’s all of that,” he said.
(Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Miranda Murray; Editing by Andrew Heavens)