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Noted Japanese author Haruki Murakami is happy with first animated adaptation of his short stories

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Noted Japanese author Haruki Murakami is happy with first animated adaptation of his short stories
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Noted Japanese author Haruki Murakami is happy with first animated adaptation of his short stories

2024-06-16 18:35 Last Updated At:18:40

TOKYO (AP) — Renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami expressed joy with how several of his short stories were adapted in American director Pierre Földes' animated film “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman", adding he wanted to see future interpretations of his work with filmmakers’ own spin.

The Japanese language version of the 2022 film will be released for the first time in Japan on July 26. It is the first animated adaptation of Murakami's work.

After screening the film Saturday at his alma mater Waseda University in Tokyo, Murakami — joining Földes at a talk session — admitted that while he wasn't a fan of animated films, he watched it twice.

The filmmaker was inspired by six of Murakami's short stories: “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo” and “U.F.O. in Kushiro”— from “After the Quake,” collection, written after the fatal 1995 Kobe earthquake — and ”Birthday Girl," “Dabchick,” “The Windup Bird and Tuesday’s Women."

“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” is set in Tokyo in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima meltdowns. It focuses on three main characters — Katagiri, a diligent but lonely and confidence-lacking banker who teams up with a giant talking frog to save Tokyo from an imminent second quake, his unenthusiastic younger colleague and his wife Kyoko, who — depressed and glued to earthquake news on TV — leaves him. Through recollections and dreams, the three eventually find peace and the ability to start anew.

Murakami praised the animated version of the intelligent green Frog, voiced by Földes, saying it matched how he imagined the character to be.

“What I would like to see is not a mere film version of what I wrote, but something added to it and becoming something new,” Murakami said during the talk.

Földes said his approach "is to be faithful to my interpretation of things of my inspiration,” which obviously worked for Murakami.

The American filmmaker said he didn't have a definitive plan when he picked six stories that “I just love." But things started to build “like different crops growing together,” he told Murakami. “Little by little all these links appeared and this is how I combined all your stories into one story with other stories inside.”

The popular writer’s works previously inspired several award-winning works, including Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s 2021 “Drive My Car” and South Korean director Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 thriller “Burning.”

Murakami cited both films and Földes' animation as examples that successfully achieved his and the directors’ goals.

“Making a film based on short stories would require directors creativity to add own materials, which tends to help the creation of an interesting product,” he said, noting that adapting a film from a full-length novel could require the opposite to make it in a two-hour production.

Murakami also said his “Underground,” his non-fiction long-form investigative work which is based on interviews with people affected by the 1995 terrorist poisonous gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, would make a fascinating film.

“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” received a nomination for best-animated film at the 2024 Lumieres Awards.

Novelist Haruki Murakami and film director Pierre Foldes pose for a photo at the end of a talk session after a screening of “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” an animated film adapted from the Japanese author’s short stories, in Tokyo, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)

Novelist Haruki Murakami and film director Pierre Foldes pose for a photo at the end of a talk session after a screening of “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” an animated film adapted from the Japanese author’s short stories, in Tokyo, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)

Novelist Haruki Murakami and film director Pierre Foldes shake hands at the end of a talk session after a screening of “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” an animated film adapted from the Japanese author’s short stories, in Tokyo, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)

Novelist Haruki Murakami and film director Pierre Foldes shake hands at the end of a talk session after a screening of “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” an animated film adapted from the Japanese author’s short stories, in Tokyo, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)

WASHINGTON (AP) — An iconoclastic filmmaking legend and one of the world's most enduring musical acts headline this year's crop of Kennedy Center Honors recipients.

Director Francis Ford Coppola and the Grateful Dead will be honored for lifetime achievement in the arts, along with jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, blues legend Bonnie Raitt and the legendary Harlem theater The Apollo, which has launched generations of Black artists.

This 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The ceremony will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 23.

Starting out as a folk-infused quintet in psychedelic-era 1960s San Francisco, the Grateful Dead steadily morphed into a cultural phenomenon and one of the most successful touring acts of all time.

Fueled by the carnival atmosphere of its traveling Deadhead fanbase and an ethos that encouraged tape-trading and emphasized live performance over studio output, the Dead have spanned multiple generations and remain wildly popular. Lead guitarist and founding member Jerry Garcia died in 1995, but the band continues almost nonstop touring in multiple incarnations.

“There’s a lot of ingredients that go into it,” drummer Mickey Hart said, when asked about the music’s longevity. “The fans say that the shows feel like home. It gives them that feeling of connectiveness and community and joy and love for life and the music.”

Currently calling themselves Dead and Company with guitarist John Mayer taking Garcia’s place, the band is in the midst of a several-month residency at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

Coppola, 85, has established himself as a trailblazing filmmaker, winning five Academy Awards and earning a reputation as a driven artist willing to risk his reputation and finances for his vision. Even after the massive successes of “The Godfather” and a sequel, Coppola drove himself into near bankruptcy while filming “Apocalypse Now,” which turned out to be another classic.

At times, he wondered whether he had ruffled too many powerful feathers along the way to ever receive Kennedy Center Honors induction.

“I’ve been eligible for the past 20 years, so the fact that I never received it made me feel that maybe I never would,” said Coppola, who took part in fellow director Martin Scorsese's induction in 2007. “I just assumed I wasn’t going to win it, so to hear that I was chosen was a surprise and a delight.”

Coppola, who has produced wine from his northern California vineyard for more than 40 years, also made sure to shout out another northern California recipient this year.

“And it's a big treat to be there this year with the Grateful Dead, my San Francisco colleagues," he said. “I'm very delighted and pleased.”

Sandoval, 74, rose to prominence as a musician in his native Cuba, playing piano and percussion but specializing in the trumpet. His work brought him into contact with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, who championed his music and personally helped him defect from Cuba while on tour in Europe in 1990. Shortly after his defection, Sandoval performed at his mentor Gillespie's own Kennedy Center Honors induction.

“Modestly apart, I do think I deserve it. I worked so hard for so many years,” Sandoval told The Associated Press. “It’s a huge honor, and I feel completely overwhelmed. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I’m just a little farmer from Cuba. God has been so good to me.”

Raitt's memories of the Kennedy Center Honors go back to the 1970s, when she accompanied her father, Broadway performer John Raitt, who was taking part in a tribute to composer Richard Rogers.

“I got to visit the White House and hang out with the Carters,” said Raitt, 74. “I got my first taste of what this weekend really means.”

As an adult performer, Raitt experienced the other side of the Kennedy Center Honors equation: performing as part of tributes to Mavis Staples in 2016 and Buddy Guy in 2012. These performances are frequently kept secret from the honorees themselves, and Raitt said she looks forward to seeing who the planners come up with for her tribute.

“I really, really want to be surprised, and I don't want to know,” she said.

Over a 50-year career, Raitt has received a plethora of music awards, including 13 Grammys and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone magazine named her to its lists of the 100 greatest guitarists and the 100 greatest singers of all time. But Raitt said the Kennedy Center Honors status holds a special place because it extends to all aspects of the performing arts, encompassing all forms of music, dance and performance.

“The thing that puts (Kennedy Center Honors) at the pinnacle is that it’s culture-wide,” she said. “It’s hard for me to even fathom what this means.”

It's extremely rare for the Kennedy Center Honors to select a venue, rather than a performer. But The Apollo's nine-decade run as an incubator for generations of Black talent has qualified it as an exception.

“It's not a traditional honoree, for sure,” said Michelle Ebanks, the theater's president and CEO, who cited the recent induction of the show “Sesame Street” as a similar out-of-the-box selection. "We're absolutely delighted by the honor."

The Harlem landmark has served as a proving ground for Black performers dating back to Billie Holiday, James Brown and Stevie Wonder and extending into modern performers like Lauryn Hill. This year, the theater has moved events to a new venue down the street, dubbed The Apollo Stages at the Victoria Theater, while the original venue undergoes renovation and expansion.

“It's more than a theater. It's a cultural touchstone ... that's rooted in the Harlem community,” Ebanks said. "It really is a recognition of a collective passion. ... Over the decades, The Apollo has never stood still.”

FILE - The marquee of the Apollo Theater honors, Aug. 6, 2019 in New York. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

FILE - The marquee of the Apollo Theater honors, Aug. 6, 2019 in New York. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

FILE - From left to right, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, daughter of the late Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia, and Bill Kreutzmann pose at the premiere of "Long Strange Trip," a documentary about the Grateful Dead rock group, during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 23, 2017, in Park City, Utah. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - From left to right, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, daughter of the late Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia, and Bill Kreutzmann pose at the premiere of "Long Strange Trip," a documentary about the Grateful Dead rock group, during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 23, 2017, in Park City, Utah. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - Cuban jazz player Arturo Sandoval plays during a concert in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 27, 2017. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - Cuban jazz player Arturo Sandoval plays during a concert in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 27, 2017. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - Bonnie Raitt arrives at the Billboard Women in Music Awards, March 2, 2022, at the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - Bonnie Raitt arrives at the Billboard Women in Music Awards, March 2, 2022, at the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - Director Francis Ford Coppola poses for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Megalopolis' at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, May 17, 2024. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - Director Francis Ford Coppola poses for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Megalopolis' at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, May 17, 2024. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - This undated file photo shows members of the Grateful Dead band, from left to right, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (AP Photo/File)

FILE - This undated file photo shows members of the Grateful Dead band, from left to right, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir. The 47th Kennedy Center class will be honored with an evening of tributes, testimonials and performances on Dec. 8 at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (AP Photo/File)

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