YIDFF 2005 all about me? Japanese and Swiss Personal Documentaries
At the Parishes
An Interview with Yaël Parish (Director)

Experiencing an Ethical Borderline

Q: In the beginning of the story you reunite with your father, but what is your image of a father?

YP: I can’t imagine a father. The father is someone who has a sense of responsibility, who thinks of his children first regardless of the circumstances, right? The relationship between my father and me in the film is a little different, and in shooting the film I tried to face him as another person, rather than as a father. I intentionally used the TV phone where you can’t clearly hear or see the person, since my father was a ghost-like presence without any substance within our lives. I empathized with him and shared his pain and losses as another human being.

Q: What kind of preparation did you do in order to film your family?

YP: Before beginning the filming I had them sign consent forms, but my mother was reluctant to sign the form, and she signed in consent after seeing the rough cut. Surprisingly, my family who saw the film had positive responses. I sent a tape to my father, but he won’t watch it.

Q: I heard that you felt some limitations or boundaries . . . .

YP: First, there was a deadline since this was a graduation piece, and I didn’t have enough time. And I think the film production was an extreme process of experiencing ethical issues and responsibility. I took on a huge risk in exposing my family, the people I love, before the camera and laying bare intense feelings and discord. It was a process of experiencing the ethical boundary of how far to go into someone’s life, how much to show. You need to be aware that audiences will see the film. You need to be aware that the message and conclusions within your images will have an impact. This film is about me and people who are close to me, so those ethical limits are hashed out very intensely. I’m not saying that taboos shouldn’t be broken, and I’m not saying that ethics are important. The experience of reaching the limits within me is important, and I think there’s a need to be aware of that. I think it’s not good to be unethical or irresponsible.

Q: What kind of turning point were you at when you made this film?

YP: It was right when I was graduating from film school. I was reeling from a broken heart, and I wanted to have the emotional strength to overcome the heartache. I needed to take some kind of action that would in some sense mark an end, to reset, since my school life was over and I was stepping out into a new phase. That was filming the nannies. The departure point for this film was tracking the life orbits of the nannies. In the end it didn’t go that way, and I followed the change of our family. I realized that I wasn’t really interested in the nannies as I interviewed them, and that I wanted to know about us, who they had witnessed.

Q: Your older brother was negative about marriage, but do you want to get married and have children?

YP: My second brother has a son now. I myself can’t really decide. Because I have a fear of the family failing. And I think my ideals are too high. And right now, I have all that I can handle with my own life.

The strange thing is that I’m thinking about doing my next film about my mother. It’s a plan that was born from the fruits of this film. My mother is about to turn seventy-four years old, and if I don’t do something quickly I’m not sure what will happen, so I’m thinking about what to do now.

(Compiled by Matsumoto Miho)

Interviewers: Matsumoto Miho, Sato Hiroaki / Interpreter: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Hitachi Hitomi / Video: Shishido Kojiro / 2005-10-10