An Interview with Santana Issar (Director)
Filmmaking: A Way to Come Face to Face with Yourself
Q: This is your first film. What did you feel as you were filming your own family?
SI: It sure was a big decision to let my family situation go public, but my teachers and friends already knew that my father was an alcoholic, and that it was causing a lot of problems in our family. I wanted to show not only mine, but also my sister’s and mother’s perspective on this problem. Also, the process of making such a personal film has given me a chance to rethink this problem in depth. I was forced into reconsidering my relationship with my family members because of this film. The experience as a whole has rewarded me with a solution to the problem. I worried in the beginning what others around me would think about my project, but once I decided to go ahead with it everything went smoothly. It helped me to better understand our family problem, and to see it in an optimistic way so I could find out how to solve the problem.
Q: Does that mean that you were able to look at it from an objective perspective through the process of making this film?
SI: Yes, I think you could say that. A normal family relationship is comprised largely of a guessing game. You are always guessing, “If I say this, he/she will probably say that.” Through making this film, this conception of family communication was overturned. It turned out that my mother, my sister and my father all replied differently then I originally thought they would. By studying those replies, I was able to gain a more objective understanding of alcoholism.
Q: The last scene made an impression on me and it served to connect everything together. What were your intentions for that scene?
SI: My father was a wonderful dad when I was young, but just because he chose alcohol, he destroyed his own life, caused many problems in the family, and completely neglected his role as a father to our family. I am grown up now and independent from my family, but I never get any fatherly advice or receive anything else that a father should give. Actually, recently, I find myself being like a mother to him. Honestly, I hate to be demanded to mother him. The last scene of the film shows how I struggled to find out what was the best thing for me to do; was it to completely cut off my relationship with my father, or was it best to look even deeper into the root of the problem to find out what was really going on in his life. It came down to me, not knowing what to do.
Q: Yes. It seemed in the film that you were greatly wavering in your relationship with your father. What has happened since you finished making the film?
SI: When I started on the project, my relationship with my father was cold. I was in the process of completely removing this relationship from my life. However, we started to talk again since I had to get his opinions for this film. Then I started to think that maybe it was wrong for me to completely neglect him, and to never meet him again. Also, my father had stopped drinking for over 3 years prior to the making of this film. It is very ironic that through this film, I gradually rebuilt a strong relationship with my father. After all, he is my father, who is a very important figure in my life. I have started to think that I don’t need to cut off our relationship, as I am beginning to understand the mistakes he made, and what might have caused him to become an alcoholic. Since the film project he has continued to be sober, so I hope to continue to build on this relationship that we were able to restart. I’m sure the situation will change if he ever starts drinking again.
(Compiled by Konno Ayaka)
Interviewers: Konno Ayaka, Sonobe Mamiko / Interpreter: Imai Isao / Translator: Paul Mikaelsen
Photography: Sato Hiroaki / Video: Sato Hiroaki / 2007-10-05