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An Iranian Woman Finds Love in the Japanese Lesbian Drama West North West

An Iranian Woman Finds Love in the Japanese Lesbian Drama West North West

West North West, directed by Takuro Nakamura, follows a Tehran exchange student Naima and her romantic triangle. Nakamura was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the film.

The Advocate: Where does the story originate from?
Takuro Nakamura: It comes from a very personal experience. Over 10 years ago, there was a woman I used to see. She understood me extremely well and showered me with a love that I had never felt before. However, I was unable to reciprocate that love. I don't know why. I was probably afraid of that kind of love.

At the same time, I began to have feelings towards a certain man. We were in the same year at a vocational school and his carefree smile left an impression on me. Again, this was a feeling that I had never felt before. Back then I was still young and very confused. I was embarrassed with myself and even clearly remember being creeped out with myself. I projected these chaotic feelings that I felt back then onto the three characters in the film and wanted to imprint these feelings into this movie.

Why did you want to tell this story?
Same-sex or different-sex, I think that to like and love somebody else is a positive. However, by looking at the negative sides that hide within the positive -- such as pain, conflict, anger, jealousy, envy and hate -- I wanted to think about the what it means to truly think of and care about others.

Why is the film titled West North West?
West North West is the direction that one prays towards Mecca from Tokyo.

The film puts an Iranian leading character in the Japanese context. What's unique about it, and why chose an Iranian character?
Perhaps it's that the person who stirs up Naima's heart more than ever before happened to be a Japanese woman with a different cultural background, values, and even tastes from hers. To speak about why I made the character Iranian... that was because only Sahel Rosa could play the role of Naima. Sahel's being is Naima herself and the only person who could give this character flesh was Sahel.

Is lesbian love subdued in Japanese culture?
There has been an increasing acceptance towards not just lesbians, but LGBTQ in general here. It's possible to say that it is a result of the concerned parties raising their voices and demanding their rights. However, social welfare issues such as same-sex marriage and partnership laws are still very much premature. I hope that society will become one in which people can live with their loved ones without fear.

West North West will premiere at Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS festival in New York City on Saturday, July 22. Find more information here.

Video credit: West North West (c) West North West

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