by Chris MaGee
The works of Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata are intuitive, compact and delicately told tales based around everyday situations, but their sometimes surreal touches and singular imagery makes them ripe for being adapted to the screen. This has been done several times in the past eight decades, most notably by Shirô Toyoda in his 1957 film of Kawabata's novel "Snow Country" and Yoshishige Yoshida's 1966 New Wave take on his story "Woman of the Lake".
One young director who's recognizing the real cinematic potential of Kawabata's short stories is Malaysian-born, Tokyo-based Edmund Yeo. Yeo is currently editing a half-hour adaptation of Kawabata's heartbreaking 1924 short story "Canaries" which he's updated and re-titled "Kingyo" (you can read our original reports about it here and here) which I am dying to get a look at; but he also adapted the author's story "Love Suicides" into a short film last year. Taken from Kawabata's wonderful collection "Palm of the Hand Stories", "Love Suicides" gives the briefest of story lines about a woman who repeatedly receives letters from her ex-husband imploring her to keep their young daughter quiet, as he can "...hear the sound. It strikes my heart."
You can actually read the entire short story here, all 443 words of it, but most importantly Todd Brown at Twitch, a fellow admirer of Yeo's work, has posted three gorgeous promotional stills from "Love Suicides" that deserve a gander, plus Yeo himself has uploaded this short clip from the film to his YouTube channel.
Word of advice: keep your eye on this young filmmaker.