Ryue Nishizawa’s Tokyo

Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine followed the architect in his Alfa Romeo. The result is 'Tokyo Ride', a suspended film in black and white.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Bekâ et Lemoine

At the origin lies a simple but ambitious idea: to follow renowned Japanese architect Ryue Nishizawa, one half of the duo behind the firm SANAA with Kazuyo Sejima, in his everyday life. The team are responsible for projects including the Louvre Lens, and were awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2010. 

The scene now comprises sprawling Tokyo and Giulia, the architect’s vintage Alfa Romeo, the other central character in this black-and-white road movie and a pampered but capricious diva who sometimes goes so far as to steal the spotlight from her owner. Lastly, behind the camera are Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine


A cat’s-eye view

Since the early 2000s, these two directors and film producers have been striving to experiment with new narrative forms to express what architecture and the urban environment say about a country, a city, and those who live there. ‘The way Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine view architecture is similar to the perspective of a cat wandering through the city’s buildings. It’s a very interesting way of seeing things’, Ryue Nishizawa declares

Tokyo Ride is a rainy film with an itinerary sometimes disrupted by the Japanese capital’s tortuous transport network and with stops hindered by inopportune closures. However, these minor aggravations are without doubt the things that add a touch of spice to the most successful voyages. Over 90 minutes, Ryue Nishizawa reflects on his architectural practice, Japanese society, and his relationship to the world and to the new. He takes the viewer along with him from a Buddhist temple to the SANAA offices via his favourite soba restaurant, before stopping at the house he designed for his associate and friend Kazuyo Sejima. And, when it is already time to look at the moon to the sound of Elisir D’amore by Enrico Caruso before watching Giulia disappear into the Tokyo night, only one regret remains: the fact that this journey cannot be resumed the following day. 

Passionate about Japan, where they lived for six months, Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine have produced other films on the subject, including Buto House, in which the viewer discovers the somewhat crazy architectural project by Keisuke Oka, and Moriyama-san, which offers a dive into the everyday life of the individual who lives in the iconic Moriyama House, designed by Ryue Nishizawa. 


Tokyo Ride (2020), a film directed by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, is available to watch on demand on Vimeo.

© Bekâ et Lemoine

© Bekâ et Lemoine

© Bekâ et Lemoine