YIDFF 2011 New Asian Currents
Water Hands
An Interview with Vladimir Todorovic (Director)

The Journey of a Vagrant Sailor

Q: Your interplay between black and white and color left a strong impression on me.

VT: I used black and white for the portions of Her life in Singapore, and color for the travels of the main character, a sailor, in the Balkan Peninsula.

The time She spends in Singapore is that of everyday life. I endeavored to show a hurried reality pressured by work and paying taxes through a woman’s eyes. When shooting, I recalled that Oshima Nagisa had once said “Women represent the homeland.” I was very conscious of those words.

In contrast, the time the sailor lives in the Balkan Peninsula is that of travel. It is very free. Color images shown from the point of view of the sailor flow slowly and gently, as if depicting a fantasy world. Here I avoided dividing up scenes into short segments, and tried to dazzle the screen with the orange hue of the light of Serbia.

I was attentive to the contrast between these two sets of images, so I paid meticulous attention when cutting from black and white to color. I used quite a deal of time to manage their connection, in order to not disorient the audience.

Q: What do you think about these two places?

VT: Although I presently live in Singapore, I was born in Serbia. I’ve left my homeland, and have lived abroad for a long time. Serbia has a unique landscape and a culture that values humor. Both are incredibly important to me. But when I returned home recently for the first time in years, I felt as if I was no longer from my homeland. I sensed that I had become like a foreigner or traveler. That said, even if I live in another country, I can never become a person from there. Of course it is the same in Singapore; I cannot become Singaporean.

Q: Is there any connection between this and your decision to base the film around a sailor, rather than a traveler?

VT: The idea to use a sailor came to me almost completely out of nowhere. One day I had plans to meet a friend, but realized that my clothes were stained. I entered a store to buy a t-shirt and change. On sale next to the t-shirts was a clock ornament embroidered with a sailor design. When I saw that, I was for some reason very inspired. After, I had to wait a while before meeting my friend, so I passed by a bookstore. There I fell upon Mishima Yukio’s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. Both of these accidental encounters connected. Just as the sailor in my film is on a journey in which he encounters many things, I was also aided by accidental encounters.

Q: I feel I caught a glimpse of the spontaneities you have experienced in the film.

VT: I am reflected in this film. As I told you just before, everyday life in Singapore, my return trip to Serbia and the stories and folk tales I heard from people I met there connected within me to become one work. My encounter with the sailor motif and Mishima Yukio is the same. Now I think back on the main character of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. What happens to someone when they quit a job they had performed with pride and give up on their future dreams? This theme forms the skeleton of this work, and is something I want to continue to wrestle with in the future.

(Compiled by Hanaoka Azusa)

Interviewers: Hanaoka Azusa, Nomura Yukihiro / Interpreter: Imai Isao / Translator: Kyle Hecht
Photography: Koshimizu Emi / Video: Kimuro Shiho / 2011-10-09