An Interview with Diana El Jeiroudi (Director)
Individuality Is Diverse
Q: You’ve had several different careers, but why did you select this theme for your first work?
DJ: I’m often asked about my experiences working at an international advertising agency and studying English literature in college. In the end for me, it was nothing more than me just doing what I needed to do at that age and in those environments. I’ve loved movies since I was a child, and I’d dreamed of becoming an actress. However, my family was very strict, and I couldn’t fulfill that dream. I was unable to get rid of my passion toward film, and somehow I was able to establish a production company. Originally I made this work for an event themed on women and Islam that was sponsored by the Kunsthalle Wien in Austria. For me personally, it was also a theme I’d been interested in. Getting married changes a woman’s life, but raising children signifies an even bigger change. Through giving birth, women first of all embrace everything as a “mother,” and our accepted role is set by society. I myself am married but don’t have children yet, and people around me often ask me why I haven’t had a child. The four people who appear in the film are all working women from middle-class origins. I wanted these women, who each have different perspectives, to speak from their real-life experiences about their feelings regarding social and religious mores that assume it’s a given that if you get married you’ll have children. I wanted to convey that individuality is diverse.
Q: What does your husband think about this work, and also about the fact that you are working?
DJ: He is also producer, and is the person who understands me best. In regards to this film as well, to the contrary I was the one who got cowardly and often went into a defensive stance. Even then, he gave me a strong push from behind. I derive a sense of security and happiness from the fact that he helped me mature and become stronger. Birth is not an issue only for women. In actuality, married people—both men and women—are told “if you get married you should have children.” And this is precisely why for me, he is my absolute partner, and the single person with whom I share values. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this work was completed thanks to him. It’s a film that deals with the theme of women, but I hope you feel the presence of men who aren’t on the screen. Because society is composed of men and women.
Q: Is there a reason for using camera angles that don’t show people’s faces?
DJ: There are two reasons. First, I wanted to emphasize the lines of women’s bodies. You’re particularly judged as a women based on the area from the chest to the waist. Second, I wanted to express the fact that women are told that “a vessel that doesn’t bear children is empty.” Comparing women to a vessel is strongly rooted in Islamic society. And looking around the world, maybe there are a lot of societies that are similar. At this film festival I learned that in Japan the “womb” is seen as a “pot,” which I think is interesting.
Q: What is your next work?
DJ: I am producing two works—a documentary about a Barbie doll wearing Islamic garb, and a narrative film about the generation gap between our parents generation and contemporary people. I’ve really been able to enjoy myself as a member of the audience at this film festival, and found it to be very stimulating. There are too many interesting works, and I regret that I’m not able to see them all. I definitely would like to bring a quality work next time and participate again.
Q: Documentary and narrative film. As you’re producing the works, isn’t it difficult to switch back and forth between them?
DJ: Isn’t it a lot easier than giving birth to and raising a child?
(Compiled by Tsukamoto Junko)
Interviewers: Tsukamoto Junko, Hashimoto Yuko / Interpreter: Catherine Cadou
Photography: Oyama Daisuke / Video: Sonobe Mamiko / 2005-10-11