An Interview with Kawase Naomi (Director)
You’ve Got to Be a Bad Guy
Q: The two people in this film seem to relate to each other as man and woman, more than as parent and child. What is your image of a father?
KN: I don’t know my father, so I’m not sure. It would be nice to have a father who carefully watches over you, not someone who says “no” before you’ve even started doing something. I have an ideal of someone who guides me in the right direction when I’m embarking on a dangerous path. It’s like also that when I look at my husband as my own child’s father.
Q: You said that you filmed the piece in one day, but how did you prepare?
KN: I had decided that the shoot would be that day only, as I was seven-months pregnant. I was challenging what I could do within the limited space of a single situation. For pre-production, I only told the actress to bring a gift for Yamazaki. The dialogue was improvised.
The actress Hako also grew up without a father, and in that respect her sensibility somehow resembles my own. I projected that, and it emerged as a story. But the film includes her getting emotional on screen with thoughts of her own father, since it’s not interesting without a sense of actuality. Although it’s not directly a documentary by Kawase Naomi, it is a documentary lived by a person named Hako. I didn’t direct or have any discussions at all, since I wanted to capture her emotions moving realistically.
I didn’t have any discussions with Yamazaki either. The cameraman Yamazaki has always lived apart from his daughter, so his daughter is absent. In some way, he’s talking about his own situation. This work is a misdemeanor that Yamazaki and I co-schemed.
With this film, there’s no way that I could have written a proposal, explained it to someone, or handed out something resembling a script to a crew. I knew their habits and had a good idea as to how they would behave, and really had their trust. And with that, I put this film together through improvisation right there on the spot. Yeah, I’m pretty awesome. I’m an awfully bad guy.
Making a documentary is exerting influence on the world. Filming this person and that person in a documentary means that the camera stands in between, and their relationship before and after I appeared turns into something clearly different. You need to be prepared to steer someone’s life like that. It’s a huge responsibility, because life from that point onwards ends up having changed. Maybe it’s impossible unless you can be kind of a bad guy. After the shoot, Hako really became attached to Yamazaki. Like her father had appeared. Someone who shrinks back at the thought having their life changed—I wouldn’t select them as an actor. Weak people are impossible on my film sets.
Q: It seems like your filmmaking style has changed a little . . . .
KN: Until now, filmmaking has been about filling up the void within me. That approach has its limits. Recently, I’ve felt like there’s not much of a future in making films to fill in the “father’s absence,” and making them is tiring. Rather than films that fill in things that are missing, I’ve grown more interested in paying attention to the present and creating things that I can do now, since I encompass the things that are absent. This work is like an approach run toward the next step.
I just finished editing a work themed on “birth.” The way the world of children expands is amazing, almost leaving me no room to think. It’s really moving, when a child stands up and walks in the interval when you have your back turned. It’s like the present keeps on coming, and this is no time to be looking back on the past.
(Compiled by Matsumoto Miho)
Interviewers: Matsumoto Miho, Tanno Emi
Photography: Omori Hiroki / Video: Sato Hiroaki / 2005-10-08