An Interview with Iizuka Toshio (Director)
Where Is Community That Underpins the Film Festival Headed?
Q: What is your viewpoint as director of this film, A Movie Capital Again?
IT: I thought that the kinds of human relations that were created through films and film festivals were very important, like those we saw in YIDFF Network for the first YIDFF. Starting this year, the festival is run by an NPO, and the administration office formed around those in the Network now has to carry the burden of both administration and programming, and that has made it difficult to create a sense of community amongst the Network members. With all this happening, I’m sure there is a lot more to the relations between the city, the city officials, and the administration office, and there must even be conflicts between them, but it was not my main interest to depict them. What I was interested in seeing the most was where the community of the Network, which took charge of the administration office, was headed.
Q: You used the interview with Jon Jost from the first YIDFF, both in the 1991 film, A Movie Capital, and in this film, A Movie Capital Again.
IT: Among the interviews from the first YIDFF, Jon Jost’s comments on community left the biggest impression on me. Japan has community, so did America once, but it now has turned into a culture where everyone just looks out for themselves. I was glad that he had come to Yamagata and perceived that, having seen how groups in Japan functioned through the film festival.
Watanabe Satoshi, a 26-year-old with whom I collaborated for this film, was very much intrigued as to where the sense of community which had underpinned the first festival had originated from. I’d worked as an assistant director for Ogawa Productions and lived and filmed in Magino Village for about 15 years, so for me it was a world that I took for granted, but Watanabe was all the more curious to know because he hadn’t experienced it. I think teaming up with a young crew member resulted in some very interesting aspects, such as the Film Center and the screening of Magino Village—A Tale.
Q: What was the audience reaction like?
IT: There were really a lot of different reactions (at the two screenings during this film festival). Even I couldn’t help but emotionally respond to each of the various reactions, such as the remark that it made someone feel like rooting for the film festival staff, or that it made one wonder what would become of the film festival, or the question as to whether we should have gone so far and included so much; therefore, I would guess Watanabe was going back and forth between Heaven and Hell.
Q: What are your thoughts about the future?
IT: First I’m thinking of a preview screening in Tokyo. Then I will think about the best approach to distribution. So far I have only concentrated on getting it made.
I think that I have considerable responsibility, since I’ve been allowed to show this much. There are lots of people within Yamagata Prefecture who are concerned about the film festival, and I want to try and lend a hand to the community surrounding the film festival as much as I can, so that the film festival can continue. Also, in terms of my own filmmaking, I’ve examined where I came from in making this film, so now I’m wondering if it would be possible to go back to the method of living in a village or a region and making a film about it. There is the issue of whether anything can be captured by filming a village in our times, and there are other issues such as funding and what not, so it won’t be easy, but I do have an intention of filming the kind of things we did in Magino Village, something that deals with nature, people, the community, production and lifestyle in contemporary Japanese society.
(Compiled by Yamamoto Shoko)
Interviewers: Yamamoto Shoko, Takada Ayumi / Translator: Ann Yamamoto
Photography: Kusunose Kaori / Video: Kusunose Kaori / 2007-10-10