INDIA, JAPAN / 2014 / Ladakh, Hindi / Color / Blu-ray / 40 min
Director, Script, Photography, Editing: Okuma Katsuya
Sound: Harshad Vayeda
Lighting: Terashima Ryuto
Source: Okuma Katsuya
For their summer homework, Jigmet and Stanzin are assigned to study The Epic of King Gesar, passed down from generation to generation in the northern Indian region of Ladakh, where the boys live. They play by the river and wander into town, roving about asking the adults around them about the legend. The Epic of King Gesar becomes a portal through which the boys begin to understand the various stories told by their elders. This film was produced as part of the residential art project “Earth Art Project in Ladakh 2014.”
[Director’s Statement] This film was made during an art project that took place over two weeks in Ladakh, an area in northern India surrounded by 3,500 meter-high mountain ranges. Walking around the village and talking to the people, I gradually decided to make a film about The Epic of King Gesar, passed down orally over generations. The epic is said to be the longest story that ever existed in the world. I decided to interview the villagers, asking which scene in the Gesar story they remembered most vividly. I was hoping that the different life histories of each person would reflect in the diversity of episodes that they’d choose.
In the end our original plan remained unrealized, because almost nobody actually remembered the Gesar story. Nevertheless, we were able to learn about other stories that the villagers did remember, using the Gesar story as an entry point.
Subsequently we encountered the fact that even in Ladakh, where the traditional lifestyle is alive and well, forces of the global economy were rapidly entering the villages and transforming lives immensely. Foreign currency acquired from nature tourism and military bases on national borders are triggering changes in people’s lifestyles.
Meanwhile, I introduced a fictional storyline where children go around to research the Gesar epic for their summer homework, transferring my own perspective as an outsider to the children who were learning about their own culture.
I made this film as a collaborative storytelling project shared by the villagers and me: the framework of my imagination became a vehicle to express the words and underlying emotions of the village people.
Born 1984 in Okinawa. After studying literature at the University of the Ryukyus, he moved to Tokyo in 2011. While working as a TV program director for documentaries and other programs, he continues to make independent films on his own. His 40-minute film Gift (2011) was screened at YIDFF 2011, the Hiroshima Peace Film Festival 2012, Vision du Réel 2012, the Hangzhou Asian Film Festival 2012 and had other national and international screenings. In 2015, in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, he made a TV documentary about the 1953 film Hiroshima, which dealt with the atomic bomb.