YIDFF 2005 New Asian Currents
An Interview with Ruthie Shatz (Director)

We Want to Present Issues That Give People a Kick in the Stomach

Q: Your previous works have also confronted realities that are ignored by society. Why did you decide to focus on these two youths?

RS: We were looking for a theme that would give people hope. We’ve passed through this area for a long time, and it is a place essentially without hope, the edge where people arrive at the end. Here, the two of them sparkle with life, and we felt a magic that isn’t despairing and the hope of friendship. And more than anything else, the biggest reason for making this work is that we really liked them, from the bottom of our hearts. Friendship is special for everyone. And so we focused on the friendship between the two of them.

Q: Given the difficulty of the theme, were there differences in opinion or identity between you two directors?

RS: This is the third work that we have made together. Based on our experiences, we have a mutual understanding about what we are feeling and how we want to film. We have created a supportive relationship that doesn’t rely on words. Of course, sometimes we have disagreements, but we are always facing the same direction, and that is important for making a film. If we didn’t have this mutual understanding, we probably wouldn’t have gotten married either. We met eight years ago at film school, when I was editor for his (director Adi Barash) graduation piece. We shot our first work Diamond and Rust in Nairobi, and that was how we got to be known internationally. We got married two years ago and have a two-year-old son. Thinking about our son’s future, conventional though it may be, we hope for a peaceful world without pollution. As a parent with a child. But, that is very difficult. Because human beings are sometimes malicious egotists and our existence is not gentle on the earth . . . . If people who see this film ask themselves what they can do, then they can look at the world around them and be aware of themselves as members of society. I think the first step is to make your own existence more gentle.

Q: Did you ever empathize with them too much?

RS: That was the most difficult thing. While we wanted to develop a rapport, there was a very fine line that needed to be drawn. First, we needed to understand that the world they live in and our own are completely different. In particular, we interacted with them gently and responded sensitively to their words and actions, because they had been deceived and abused by so many adults before. Moreover, at first we kept a slightly distanced perspective, and gave a lot of thought to our words and actions. We paid close attention to making sure we didn’t give the wrong impression or hurt them, and rolled the camera only after having numerous conversations and getting their full consent. We couldn’t abandon them in the circumstances they’d been left in, and we accompanied them to court several times. However, that was after the filming was finished. That is a rule as a documentary filmmaker. As a result, Nino has permanent residency in Israel, and Dudu has quit both drugs and prostitution and lives with his grandmother. But they were raised in a complicated environment, and there lurks a danger that they might at some point return to their former lives. Life is complicated. As filmmakers, we want to continue confronting the many “gardens” that still exist in society, and present issues that give people a kick in the stomach.

Q: What about your next work?

RS: It’s the story of a Jewish boxer raised in a poor family. He’s expected to become the middleweight world champion. He is also a youth who was raised in a complicated social environment, and has grown up through his own power. We already did the filming in New York, and plan to complete the piece in late 2006.

(Compiled by Tsukamoto Junko)

Interviewers: Tsukamoto Junko, Kusunose Kaori / Interpreter: Kawaguchi Yoko
Photography: Oyama Daisuke / Video: Oyama Daisuke / 2005-10-11