Graduate student Aiko has a conspicuous facial birthmark that made her a target of bullying as a child and sapped her confidence as a woman. When a book partly based on her life is adapted to film, she falls for its director. However, her feelings are not reciprocated.
A native of Nara Prefecture, Yasukawa had an interest in movies and paintings when she was younger, and counts Bergman, Fassbinder and Kurosawa Kiyoshi as her influences. She enrolled in Osaka College of Art and Design where she studied film and video production. After directing several short films, she won a grant from CO2 (Cineastes Organization Osaka) to make her feature-length directorial debut, Dressing Up. The movie dealt with a 7th grade girl opening a Pandora’s Box of secrets about her mother as she herself struggles to gain control of her own being. The movie won the Grand Prix at the 14th TAMA NEW WAVE in 2013 and in 2015 Yasukawa self-distributed its release in theaters nationwide. She then won the 25th Japanese Professional Movie Awards New Director Award.
Yasukawa has always been fascinated by characters drawn in shades of gray. The moral dilemmas which lead to their actions are, to the director, what enriches the movie-going experience and sparks discussion afterward. “It’s easy to label someone who did something wrong as ‘bad,’” she tells Screen Daily, “but when you imagine what led up to that point, you realize you might have done something similar too[.]” She continues challenging the audience to seek their own interpretations while tackling contemporary social issues such as her contributions to the short film anthologies 21st Century Girl (produced by by filmmaker Yamato U-ki) and Kamata Prelude (produced by actress Matsubayashi Urara of The Hungry Lion).