Iguchi Nami makes her feature film directorial debut with Inuneko
("Dog and Cat"), an award-winning drama about the budding rivalry between two very different women! Released in some markets under the English title The Cat Leaves Home
, the film centers on two young twentysomethings, Suzu (Fujita Yoko) and Yoko (Enomoto Kanako) who end up becoming roommates. Although close friends since childhood, Suzu and Yoko aren't exactly the closest of friends; in fact, the two are actually polar opposites (hence the Japanese title)! Of the two roommates, Suzu is the more cheerful, extroverted one, whereas the bespectacled Yoko is oftentimes gloomy, introspective, and bitter. Over the course of the narrative, it is revealed that both women have been in love with the same man, a fact that serves both as a strange bond and an obvious division between the two. Gradually, what begins as the normal everyday tensions between roommates escalates into a feud of dramatic proportions.
Through the relationship of these two women, the understated and dryly comic Inuneko gives a masterful representation of the anxiety plaguing young Japanese women in today's world as they find themselves looking towards an uncertain tomorrow. Featuring performances by Nishijima Hidetoshi, Oshinari Shugo, and Koike Eiko, the film took home the top film prize from FIPRESCI, the international federation of film critics, at the 2004 Torino Film Festival. Before taking on the directorial reins of Inuneko, Iguchi Nami previously worked as a sound assistant on various other projects, including the works of Kurosawa Kiyoshi and Yaguchi Shinobu. After directing an award-winning short film in 2001, Iguchi went on to write and direct Inuneko, the kind of film almost certain to mark the beginning of a great filmmaking career!