Interview with Yukiko Mishima, “Night’s Tightrope”

Japanese Film Festival (JFF) 2016
Why are Yuki and Atsuko hoping to see someone die?
The Director of “Night’s Tightrope”, Yukiko Mishima talks about the film

Japan in Melbourne writer Sayu Umeda

Although 2016 is approaching its end, Melbourne has been enjoying various cultural and art events held throughout the year.

The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) returns to Melbourne from the 24th of November to the 4th of December. This year marks its 20th anniversary, featuring both classic to the most recent Japanese Films brought to you with the full cinema experience. Participating screening venues include Hoyts in Melbourne Central and ACMI in Federation Square. Tickets are available for purchase from the JFF website.

The JFF, one of the most popular film festivals, is presented by The Japan Foundation, Sydney, and is held annually in major Australian cities. It also features seven cities in Australia where films are shown as a mini version of the JFF.

On the 24th on November, the JFF in Melbourne commences with a screening of “After the Storm”, followed by some of Japan’s most recent films such as “A Bride for Rip Van Winkle”, “Chihayafuru Part I and Part II” and “Assassination Classroom-Graduation-“, “Kampai! For the Love of Sake”, “Pink and Gray”, “Night’s Tightrope”, “The Sun”, “Wolf Girl & Black Prince” and many more.

“Night’s Tightrope” is one of the most recent films to be shown during the JFF, coming to Australia only around a month after its Japan release.

The film was originally based on the novel, written by Kanae Minato, published under the name of “Shoujo” (meaning ‘girls’ in Japanese). Two girls struggle through their high school lives in a rather closed-off world.

The staff at Japan in Melbourne were fortunate enough to be able to interview the director of the movie, Ms. Yukiko Mishima over the phone.


You would be shocked to hear high school girls saying, “I want to see someone die”, if you see the trailer. But what we are trying to capture here is “to live”.


How did you invision the storyline of “Night’s Tightrope”?

The protagonists are both seventeen year old girls. At first glance, they are seemingly selfish, but in reality they are struggling in their own small world. Say, the life back and forth between school and home. They talk about death nonchalantly not because they are mean, but because they are desperate to search for the meaning of life.


Is this your first time to come to Australia?

Yes, it is. “Shiawase no Pan”, one of my previous works, was shown at JFF four years ago, and I couldn’t attend back then despite really wanting to. So, I am very pleased to finally make it to JFF this time. I hope that the international audience will enjoy all the films at JFF.


How do you like Australia so far?

I am fascinated by architecture, so I was amazed by many buildings such as the town hall, post offices, and churches. They were all beautifully built in ways we are no longer able to do so. You can see a lot of influences from British culture in these buildings, and they manage to incorporate the old and new, and the influence of cultures from all over the world gives the place a unique atmosphere. It would be great if I could visit the Contemporary Art Museum during my stay in Sydney.


Could you tell us about the hardest thing to make a novel into a film?

The genre of the original novel written by Kanae Minato is human drama, and the story also contains some mystery. However, when it comes to the visualisation of a novel, it has become quite tricky to keep the mystery as the film has such a strong visual aspect. Mystery can stay secret in the word, but not in the visual. That’s what we really needed to focus on.

There may be many things unfamiliar to international audience. Yet one of our major themes of the film is that people get what they deserve and has a strong focus on the consequences of one’s own actions. I think this is something people would understand regardless of their culture or nationality.

You would be shocked to hear high school girls saying, “I want to see someone die”, if you see the trailer. But what we are describing here is “to live”, and they are desperate to look for the meaning of living, and to feel the sensation of being alive.

I hope you enjoy the film and talk about it with your friends or family or even the person who sat next to you. You might want to reflect what to life means to you, and who you want to be with in your life.


“Night’s Tightrope” is in the theatre on Friday, 25th November at ACMI, Melbourne.

Tickets are available for purchase from the JFF website.


“Night’s Tightrope” (As per the JFF website):

Year: 2016
Length: 119 mins
Classification rating: Under 15s must be accompanied by an adult
Audience warning: This film contains themes of suicide and moderate violence
In Japanese with English subtitles.



Yuki and Atsuko are high school friends. Ever since they have heard of their classmate talked about her witnessing the death of her best friend, they hope to see someone die. On summer vacation, Yuki starts volunteering at a paediatrics, hoping to fulfil her desire. Meanwhile, Atsuko was desperate to change her life as a victim of bullying. She also started to volunteer at a nursing home, hoping to see someone die so that she can be brave again to live.

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