YIDFF 2005 New Docs Japan
HOME TOWN—me & the Kobe Earthquake
An Interview with Motoki Takashi (Director)

It’s Like I Wanted to Make a Documentary Saying “I’m Thinking about the Earthquake Too”

Q: Was the film screened in Nagata, where you did the filming?

MT: I did a screening for people who helped out with the filming. It seems that some people expected to see more footage of the earthquake, since it was a documentary about Nagata eight years since the disaster. In that respect there were different degrees of enthusiasm, since this is a self-documentary more than anything. Also, people who had sustained heavy damage said they’d wanted me to portray Nagata after thoroughly showing the truth of the disaster. On the other hand, some people suggested maybe it’s fine to deal with the disaster this way, as I’m someone seeing Nagata for the first time since the earthquake eight years ago. Some people in the media who went to the disaster area right after the earthquake had always felt like “outsiders,” unable to genuinely relate to the victims, and some of them felt they couldn’t voice that feeling. It seems they thought my approach of stating upfront that “I’m an outsider” was interesting.

Q: This work is your first documentary, but how did you come to make this film?

MT: I’d always made feature films, and my film from graduate school was released in independent movie theaters. One of my former classmates Tanaka (who appears in this film) heard about the screenings and contacted me about presenting the film in Nagata, his hometown. He wanted to do it as part of efforts to revitalize the local business district. When I saw Nagata for the first time in sixteen years, it had completely changed, and he also told me a lot about it. As that was going on, suddenly Tanaka said he wanted me to make a film in Nagata. I thought it might be interesting to do a film about how Nagata changed, from the perspective of myself, who hadn’t experienced the earthquake. I had also just gotten an offer for a television documentary, so the project went ahead to the filming stage. In the end, it completely turned into an independent film, as the content evolved into something that went beyond just being a television program.

Q: Now looking back at it, why do you think you made this film?

MT: It comes out in the film, but it’s like I wanted to make a documentary saying “I’m thinking about the earthquake too.”

Q: In your comments about the film (in the festival catalog), you write about making “excuses.”

MT: That’s right. I wanted to make an excuse, but somehow it didn’t quite work out. I was born in Kobe but I’ve never experienced an earthquake disaster, and that fact remained with me for eight years. But I realized that even so, there’s a part of me that feels ashamed. So I took the camera and filmed myself as I went along. And there were situations where I couldn’t escape, and sometimes there were things I thought I couldn’t say in front of the camera. You could say I was able to make the effort to reveal my inner self precisely because the camera was rolling.

Q: Who do you want to see this film?

MT: There are people whose hometowns have been hit by a disaster—not just the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake—and they weren’t able to help in the recovery, or it didn’t occur to them to help out. I’m a person who didn’t even make the effort, and in this film, that person is in distress. I hope that people in similar circumstances can empathize with this film, and draw even one step closer to their own hometowns.

(Compiled by Inotani Yoshika)

Interviewers: Inotani Yoshika, Kato Takanobu, Kato Hatsuyo
Photography: Kato Takanobu, Kato Hatsuyo / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2005-09-22 / in Tokyo