Junko is nearly 30, nearing the customary “best before” age of Japanese society, and is feeling stronger pressure from those around her. Without a significant other or even a particular wish to have children anytime soon, she decides to become an egg donor; and not just for the free Hawaii trip that would be the prize if her candidacy is successful. At a counsellng session, she meets her niece Aki who has similar plans. Together, they soon see how competitive social and evolutionary rules can mess up the best human relationships, particularly when such rules are mixed with the fossilized attitudes of a society which is frantically hanging on to traditions.
At the age of 32 when she completed Wasted Eggs, Kawasaki Ryo is almost certainly drawing on real experiences and feelings for a society that continues to pressure women to marry and raise children, and unfortunately many Japanese women still consider to be the epitome of femininity. The decision between having a career or having a family still beleaguers contemporary Japanese women, including filmmakers like Kawasaki. One could safely assume LGBTQ women have an even tougher time. What women deciding not to bear children in such a society are made to feel may be culled from the movie’s title, but when Little White Lies writes “for a film about gender inequality by a female director, the absence of cynicism is quite surprising,” there is ample reason to believe Kawasaki is expressing something quite nuanced.
A graduate of Waseda University, Kawasaki went on to study film production at the New Cinema Workshop where she directed a number of short movies showcased at film festivals. Wasted Eggs is her feature-length debut. It was recently nominated for a Japan Arts Center Movie Grand Prix in 2019. Her latest work is a 30 minute short produced through VIPO’s New Directions in Japanese Cinema program. Titled Anata Mitaini, Naritakunai (lit. “I don’t want to become like you”), it tells the story of a dowdy 28-year-old woman bent on getting married. She suffers a blow to the ego when she is mixed up with a 42-year-old unmarried colleague everyone in the office calls lonely. But she will find out another side to her colleague she didn’t expect. Once again, and now at 34, Kawasaki is addressing the topic but from the angle of the pressures women sometimes place on themselves to comply with social expectations. Clearly gender equality and gender roles will continue to be a theme of this promising filmmaker.
Wasted Eggs is produced by and available through producer Ueyama Emi’s Article Films