Fiction which Dwells on the Subject
—Speaking with the directors of Gift and Children of Soleil
Q: Both works document those who lived in the dark sides of cities, the Okinawa park of in Gift and the Tamagawa estuary in Children of Soleil, who were forcefully sent to live somewhere else. What motivated you to capture them on camera?
Okuma Katsuya (OK): Initially I had written a script about non-blood kinship, centering on Yosuke as a child. I was born in Okinawa, but I did not agree with the emphasis that this land put on blood relatives, and the special bonds that it created. So, by focusing on Yosuke, who lost his blood-relative grandfather and meets a homeless man who in sorts is a “social stranger or outsider,” I thought would help break that blood-related emphasis. That is the reason why the “grave” that is seen at the end of the movie, which is a place that represents a family’s inheritance, is so important. However, because Kame-chan and his friend Rickey, who weren’t in the script, were so inspiring, I had to figure out a way to include them into the film, thus changing the sort of configuration of the film.
Okutani Yoichiro (OY): In my case, I was thinking about telling the story of Tokyo through a stray dog’s perspective, but in doing so I found a man named Mr. Takashima who lived on a boat in Tamagawa who had a pet dog. While filming him as he talked to me, I noticed that his somewhat deceitful way of speech was his way of characterizing himself. So, I decided to base a fictional story on him. I call creating a character in the editing process “directing” but I wanted to “direct” Mr. Takashima as a “spirit of the boat,” a sort of surreal existence. Kame-chan in Gift, I felt was creating his own character through his composition of drawings and objects, but did you (Mr. Okuma) “direct” this kind of thing for Kame-chan?
OK: Gift already had a script written so I shot it considering the changes seen in Kame-chan. For example, when Kame-chan is drawing at a park, people, including tourists came up to talk to him. Then suddenly, the “city” behind him became part of the film. It made me think that I wanted to include elements, like behind the scenes and interview footage that weren’t in the script. So, it is as if things were rewritten during shooting. On the contrary, Children of Soleil was shot by capturing the objects straight-forward right?
OY: I don’t ever write a script in advance. If I had tried to get a certain pinpoint thought out of him, Mr. Takashima would just have pontificated, and I would not have been able to get out what I wanted to. That is why the film is stylized in such a way; capturing him as he talked to me. I am definitely sitting in front of him but it is unclear who he is exactly is addressing with his words. Leaving this floating feeling of his words in, while at the same time expanding the film’s possibility through editing was how this all came together.
OK: In Gift, Rickey may be the one who is supporting the fictional aspects by narrating something, much like Mr. Takashima’s words. In the film it was like the documentary part, but his flowing way of speech, made it look as if it were scripted. I did not shoot that scene myself and saw it for the first time during the editing process, but these sorts of fishiness, or I suppose the fiction that can be created from speech is truly fascinating.
(Compiled by Iwai Nobuyuki)
Interviewers: Iwai Nobuyuki, Ichikawa Eri / Translator: Kenji Green
Photography: Kato Takanobu / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2011-09-18 in Tokyo