Strong as a Mother: A Diary of an American Genius Woman in Literature
The film Leonie is a biopic that depicts a woman's courage and struggles in life. This film describes a talented female writer who is a strong mother alone raising her son to become an acclaimed Japanese master sculptor.


TextWenchien Wu

This film is based on the true story from the biography The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey without Borders by Isamu Noguchi, a world-renowned master sculptor. In this book, Noguchi described the story that happened between his mother Léonie Gilmour, and his father Yonejiro Noguchi, an influential Japanese poet.

After World War II, Léonie Gilmour, an American writer, follows Yonejiro Noguchi to come to Japan. However, this cross-cultural romance doesn't receive any blessings. As a Western foreigner living in Japan, life is so hard, yet Gilmour has to raise her son, Isamu Noguchi, by herself. This biopic is a life story of Gilmour, which depicts her lifetime of struggles and success. It's also a film expressing women's gentleness and strength.

Going Far Away from Home for Love
Starring the English actress Emily Mortimer and lushly photographed by the acclaimed Japanese cinematographer Tetsuo Nagata, the main filming locations of Leonie took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, and the cherry orchards of Japan. These beautiful sceneries in the film serve as a foil to the lifetime of the main character Léonie Gilmour.

The great woman behind Yonejirō Noguchi and Isamu Noguchi is namely Léonie Gilmour, who becomes front-and-center in this film. This biopic makes everyone more deeply realize that the woman behind a successful man could be many different characters. The role could be a great writer's lover, a renowned sculptor's mother, and even more a female with creative talents in literature.

A Narrative Story from Female Perspective
Hisako Matsui is the director, co-screenwriter, and producer of Leonie. Matsui's directorial debut is Yukie (1998) which received a favorable review as well as many international festivals nominations. When reading The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey without Borders by Masayo Duus, Matsui gets inspired by the life of Léonie Gilmour and brews the idea of this film for seven years. This biopic later receives the Tokyo International Film Festival nomination.

Matsui truly admires the legendary life of Léonie Gilmour. “Gilmour's life is so dramatic. Everyone knows her son, the world-famous sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. People know the life of Isamu Noguchi but have no idea about hers. As a female director, I realize that I must let the whole world know about her life.” Matsui says.

Japanese Actors Enriching the Film Greatly
This film invites the English stage actress Emily Mortimer to perform as the leading lady & invites the Japanese film actor Shido Nakamura to act as the Japanese literary master Yonejiro Noguchi, the leading man in the film. Also, this film gathers numerous supporting casts, such as the Japanese actors Takashi Kashiwabara, the Japanese actress Mieko Harada, and more. These Japanese performers enrich this film greatly.

No Wanting to Be the One to Succeed
In the twentieth century, people still regard women as appendages to men. Speaking different languages & meeting with refusals at job seeking, Léonie Gilmour doesn't give up while facing so many difficulties in Japan. She utilizes literature to educate her son and let him know art knows no national borders. Gilmour nurtures her son as an acclaimed master sculptor in his generation. After her son succeeds, Gilmour decisively gives free rein and returns to live in the peaceful countryside.

Leonie will screen on 26th August in Taiwan. This biopic is made by spending 1.3 billion Japanese Yen and collaborating with multinational filmmakers. Meanwhile, this film has won the prize of Special Screenings for the Toronto Japanese Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival.

Leonie film IsamuNoguchi LéonieGilmour YonejiroNoguchi EmilyMortimer ShidoNakamura TakashiKashiwabara MiekoHarada YiiLife