An Interview with Ivo Zen (Director)
The Act of Returning to a Place That I Love
Q: What were the difficulties in making a film about yourself and people close to you?
IZ: In fact, the most difficult thing for me was asking for permission to film at the start. My aunt and I have been close for a long time, but there’s a bit of estrangement from my uncle, so I was worried that they might not give me permission to film. But in reality, my uncle took an interest in the project and immediately agreed, partly because he himself is a photographer. Another concern was that my relationship with my aunt and uncle would have to change once I started filming. Because I was suddenly picking up a camera and turning into a director. That was scary. But my fear and anxiety dissipated, since I was able to interact with them as a professional once the production was actually underway, and they were extremely cooperative.
Q: The situations in the film where you and your aunt appear together are memorable. Why did you include yourself in the film?
IZ: I thought my presence was needed to bring out that the time remaining for them on the farm is limited, since I made that an important theme in the film. I hardly appear in the film, thinking that in such situations my voice should serve as an expression of my “self.” And at the same time, I thought it would be better for viewers to know what kind of person owned this voice. That’s why I show my face at the beginning of the film. That’s the first time, and after that I wanted the audience to gradually feel the relationship deepening between my aunt and me, and simultaneously become familiar with my aunt’s hardships, like that her son has gone to Canada and is missing.
Q: Is that related to your decision to use a two-shot showing you with your aunt for the last scene in the film?
IZ: That cheese scene expresses the intimacy in our relationship, aside from being the last scene in the film. In reality, I shot that scene the third time that I filmed, not at the very end. It was very deliberate of me to put that at the end of the film, but I think that the fact that it doesn’t follow the order of the filming is evidence that documentaries are not just reflections of reality, but rather re-compositions by the filmmaker.
Q: What does hometown signify to you?
IZ: To be honest, I was really glad when I left the village at age fifteen. I mean, I was discouraged by life in a small village. And I didn’t get along with the people around me. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but for a youth, I spent a lot of time on my own. For example, I spent more time playing in nature than with other children. For me, hometown is first and foremost about family, and second about place. The basis of this film is the act of returning to a place that I love, a place where I have memories of playing. However, in the end, there are two sides to my relationship with my hometown. On one hand, I’m fond of it as a place with soothing warmth and beauty. At the same time, it’s a place where human relationships are very difficult. It’s pinned between those two aspects.
(Compiled by Hashimoto Yuko)
Interviewers: Hashimoto Yuko, Ishii Rei / Interpreter: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Sato Akari / Video: Yamaguchi Mika / 2005-10-09