YIDFF 2005 all about me? Japanese and Swiss Personal Documentaries
After All, I’m 70 Years Old
An Interview with Suzuki Shirouyasu (Director)

Humans Are Finished If We Lose the Capacity to Be Embarrassed

Q: Did you keep the audience in mind when you were making this work?

SS: I do keep the audience in mind, surprisingly so. I’m not sure if you’d call it directing, but it’s there somewhere. However, it’s not like I’m currying favor, or aiming for a big hit. But, somehow changing through watching the piece. If you don’t have anything that appeals to people watching the piece, the viewers will feel ignored and excluded from the film. That’s something I want to avoid. Sometimes it can be hard to share ideas, since I film only within my personal life sphere and develop my thoughts within that.

Q: You’ve continued showing your own personal life through films for several decades, but do you ever feel any kind of embarrassment?

SS: It’s embarrassing, sure. Being filmed is my weakest point. But, embarrassment is there to be overcome. Human beings are finished if we lose the capacity to be embarrassed. Basically I really don’t want to be on film. I don’t like classes either. You have to talk in front of everyone, right? I dread it. But I’m getting paid, so there’s nothing I can do about it.

Q: This time, were there any images that you actively tried to incorporate in the film?

SS: For the works I’ve made over the past few years, I haven’t set themes for filming. Usually I carry the camera around on a daily basis and film garden flowers, or go to another place and film. And then when I’ve reached a certain point, I think about bringing it together in some way. This work deals with last year. Last year I was involved in the student theater production “Jiraiya,” and as I interacted with the young people, my inclination turned quite a bit toward physicality.

Q: You yourself use the internet, a non-physical space.

SS: The body disappears on the internet, but verbs exist as traces of my body in the texts on my blog and elsewhere. Things like verbs, or movement of place. It seems to me that the body does appear within the internet. So, I make the verb very explicit, like when I’m writing about where something happened. It feels like you can actually see the person who did the writing when you read, although people aren’t really aware of this. Brecht said that language speaks with the entire body. When it comes to text, or any kind of writing, you can see the figure of the person who did the writing. And Brecht was a playwright, so for him language was not simply words, but the important thing was that a person becomes visible from within the words. The body is completely invisible within the internet, but I think the person becomes visible from within language.

Q: You have a special interest in the expression “extremely private,” but did something prompt you to pursue this idea?

SS: There’s this concept of “phenomenon.” Some things don’t appear as phenomenon, but they get recognized as such once they unfold in a definite way. I basically deal with myself as a phenomenon. My interest in the “extremely private” originates from the idea that universality can be obtained, depending on the approach I take in developing myself as that phenomenon. So, you hear a lot about universality when you think about things, or express something. When I was young, we thought that universality didn’t exist. But, that’s not the case. To the contrary, you lose authenticity by thinking about universality. And then authenticity loses reality. In order to obtain reality, you have to examine yourself closely, and deal with yourself as a phenomenon. And that is the start of “extremely private.”

(Compiled by Moriyama Seiya)

Interviewers: Moriyama Seiya, Sato Hiroaki
Photography: Kato Hatsuyo / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2005-09-30 / in Tokyo