YIDFF 2005 New Docs Japan
An Interview with Terada Yasunori (Director)

Tale of Love and Friendship Seen within the Restrictions on What Can’t Be Filmed

Q: How did you encounter Kurata Tetsuya, the main subject of the film?

TY: The first time I heard about him, to be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic. Shooting in Kumamoto would be difficult both logistically and financially, and I also thought the film would be compared with Hara Kazuo’s Good-bye CP (1972), since it deals with cerebral palsy. But then I met Kurata, and he laughed in that way of his. And I decided I wanted to film him. I was interested in depicting someone from my own generation, and I could see the storyline with the driver’s license and marriage, for better or worse. After that we lived next door to his residence, “Symbiotic Home-Genki,” and gradually opened up. He also loves cinema.

Q: You did a good job drawing out the charisma of the people in the documentary without using any interviews.

TY: That’s because I thought in the course of events their feelings would come through, even in their little nuances and comments. To put it bluntly, I really empathized with Kurata’s stance of not giving up. Because even though he’s gone through something that objectively is really scary, all that he says is, “Wow, that’s some freeway!” He gradually came to see the significance of appearing in the film, and did it upon shouldering full responsibility, though the problems he’s dealing with are actually not that simple. So I think we too were pretty committed to them and the issues they were dealing with, but I though it would be better if the directing was hidden behind the scenes so the audience could see Kurata and everyone else just as they are.

Q: But you also show the size of the obstacles they faced, like the opposition to their marriage.

TY: In addition to the problems shown in the film, there were other really tough difficulties. Miho is a teacher, and the two of them get along together so well, but she worried that she might be censured by her school and the PTA. Some people opposed Sato Ryoji’s appearance in the film. In the end I kept on talking things over with them, right through the editing. With documentaries, the restrictions on what you can’t film are overwhelmingly big. It’s tough, but on our side, we have the issue of how to film through these restrictions.

Q: Given those circumstances, why did you go out of your way to include their co-resident Sato Ryoji in the film?

TY: He’s interesting, isn’t he? He introduces himself saying “I’m Sato Ryoji, and I am mentally ill,” with a sparkle in his eyes. I understand why he’s frustrated, and really like him as a “lovable but hopeless guy.” (laugh) He was so glad when Kurata got his driver’s license. I was most moved when Sato bowed low and said “I’m so happy you’re treating a fool like myself as a human being,” and I wanted to portray that without losing any of the happiness. He was cheered by Kurata too. I wanted to show more of their friendship and frustrations, but finally I decided to make it a story about love, since our times are about love, more so than friendship between two guys.

(Compiled by Sato Hiroaki)

Interviewers: Sato Hiroaki, Nishiya Mariko
Photography: Nishiya Mariko / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2005-09-18 / in Tokyo