Ryusuke Hamaguchi on the Importance of Watching and Listening

Ryusuke Hamaguchi on the Importance of Watching and Listening

With the extraordinary success of Drive My Car on the global festival and awards circuit, director Ryusuke Hamaguchi has emerged as one of the most beloved filmmakers in the world. In honor of today’s announcement of our upcoming edition of the movie, we wanted to share the director’s heartfelt speech upon accepting Best Film at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards ceremony, held in Manhattan on March 16—the week before Drive My Car took home the Oscar for Best International Feature Film. The text of the speech, previously unpublished and presented below, was translated by Aiko Masubuchi and has been slightly edited for clarity.


I am honored that the New York Film Critics Circle, with its long history, has given our film, Drive My Car, the Best Film award. Thank you very much.

I received the wonderful news of this award last December, and I was truly surprised to learn that it was for Best Film. My cast and crew all shared in the joy together. There’s no doubt that the acceptance of Drive My Car in the United States increased after this news. This definitely would not have happened without the wonderful critics here finding value in the film and strongly recommending it to audiences. I am truly grateful to the members of the Circle for this, and also to Sideshow, Janus Films, and Warner Media 150 for delivering the film to many people around the U.S.

I believe that the best film criticism is not that which merely connects audiences with a film. Rather, it is a result of watching and listening closely, finding new facets to the film, and encouraging the audience to see the film from a new perspective. In this respect, film criticism is just as much of a creative act as filmmaking.

Drive My Car, as a whole, is a film that urges a state of watching and listening better. In order for the actors to perform better, they must watch, listen, and concentrate deeply on their fellow actors. It is also a film about how a person must look deep into their heart and listen to the screams from within.

Watching and listening are the foundations of living a better life. We live in a time when many of us have been separated and isolated from one another. But this did not begin today; it’s in fact a universal situation that we all must live through. However, I believe that seeing better and listening better might be the best and simplest way for us to overcome our circumstances and connect and reconnect with one another.

It is film that taught me this idea. When we try to see like a camera and listen like a microphone, it is possible to realize that everybody in our world is expressing the ineffable. There is deep joy in understanding these moments. From this realization, I have learned not only how to make films but also how to love others and the world.

For me, film criticism, filmmaking, and living a better life are all connected as one in the act of watching and listening. Of course, it takes a long time to deeply see and listen, and it’s no easy task. However, I truly believe that our work is meaningful in the way that it can connect one person with another. 

Watching and listening are passive actions. They do not change the world. At best, they preserve us and update us by a very small degree. However, to change ourselves even a little is to change the world by a little. Let’s continue our work together. 

I would like to take this opportunity to, once again, thank the cast and crew who worked incredibly hard to realize Haruki Murakami’s world of storytelling. I am deeply grateful to the members of the New York Film Critics Circle for finding our film. Thank you very much.

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