An Interview with Azuma Mieko (Director)
I Wanted to Include Myself as the Person Behind the Camera
Q: At what point did you come up with the idea of making a film about Yuri and Otchan?
AM: Not long after Yuri met Otchan. The two fell in love, then began a relationship, so I told them well, I’m going to making a documentary about you, and then I got started. It was kind of a natural process. It felt like destiny, as if I had been put there to film them.
Q: I thought your film was beautiful, but a little melancholy. I wanted to know how you viewed the two of them.
AM: How I viewed them . . . Well, today at the screening venue someone said to me that in the film Japan: A Story of Love and Hate, the director becomes more and more involved, almost controlling his two subjects, and that his stance was extremely interesting. I didn’t go that far, and tried as much as I could to be an observer. Even so, I did feel frightened by the thought of constantly filming them. It disrupts their place, their space, and their relationship could also have changed by having me film them. That fear always stayed with me. I wondered how much of an influence I’d have on them just by being there, by having the camera there . . . I always had the feeling that a camera is a scary thing.
Q: With this film, I thought that you were trying to record your own feelings, your heart, and I wonder if that’s the kind of film it was.
AM: That’s right, it wasn’t that I set out to document them, nor create an observation or a record, but my pivotal stance in making the film was creating a documentary about the two of them told from my perspective. As for putting myself in it . . . I wasn’t observing just the two of them, I was trying to make a film about the couple as I saw them. And I always wanted to include myself as the person behind the camera. I tried to make a documentary about three people that displayed their relationships with one another.
Q: Has Yuri seen the film?
AM: Yuri and Otchan both came to Yamagata. They watched it in Yamagata together. For them it was less about watching it as a film than as a memory. Each scene is a memory, so they didn’t watch it as a film compiled from them, but rather viewed it as if reliving those memories, thinking “Yeah, I remember this, I remember that.” They’re the subjects of the film, not regular viewers, so I could see the difference. I thought their different viewpoint was quite interesting.
(Compiled by Miura Norishige)
Interviewers: Miura Norishige, Ichiyanagi Sayuri / Translator: Don Brown
Photography: Hozumi Maki / Video: Ito Ayumi / 2009-10-11