Q&A after the Screening Lo Shin-chieh, Wang Hsiu-ling (Directors)
How Documentary Exists
Q: How do you feel, looking back on 12 years?
Lo Shin-chieh (LH): Looking back, I realize that YIDFF was a holy place for us in continuing to make documentary. When we were unsure whether to continue this line of work, receiving the festival invitation meant a great deal for us.
Wang Hsiu-ling (WH): For me too, it was a wonderful experience to come to Yamagata 12 years ago. I’m also greatly pleased that this time again such an opportunity came about. You saw our film about Hsiaolin Village. We filmed it by trying to accompany the emotions of the villagers who suffered from the natural disaster. When we saw the tsunami gulping up entire towns like a Hollywood movie in the March 11th news footage in Japan, we were very saddened and thought about all the victims.
Q: What have you been doing these past 12 years?
LH: We’ve continued making documentary for the past 12 years, on topics of environment, labor, and agriculture. It was 12 years ago that we came in touch with Director Ogawa Shinsuke’s spirit. He was always looking towards these themes and upheld the social role that documentary can play. That spirit encouraged us immensely. We’ve continued making documentaries over these 12 years with the desire to learn from our great elder Director Ogawa. We continue today to follow the road of documentary in the form Mr. Ogawa proposed.
Q: Can you tell us about your relationship with the villagers of Hsiao-ling?
LH: When I encountered Typhoon Morakot, I first thought of helping the villagers and that filming them with my camera was secondary. Nevertheless, I had a sense of duty as a documentarist to film them, too. In living my daily life with them, I observed their progress and tried to accompany them like a shadow, neither far nor near. The DVD sales of this film is being used to support their recovery.
Q: I cannot but think about the current issue of recovery in Japan following the March earthquake. This film allows us to think deeply about this issue through looking at the various contradictions and controversies within the process of reconstruction. Also, I was moved to discover that though this film deals with very tragic content, it manages to have a sense of humor and is somehow optimistic. Films about the disaster made by Japanese filmmakers lack in humor. Is this humor in your film a personal sense of humor or is it a course of nature for Taiwanese people?
LH: I wouldn’t say that I myself embody a special power, but it happens that when I bring my camera to the location, I just blend in with the villagers. Because I eat and drink with them, and live with them, I am able to become one of them.
Q: Is there a difference in the situation of Taiwan documentary today, compared with that in 1999?
LH: The documentary filmmaking population has grown since then. Especially notable are the schools and university courses for documentary filmmaking. Talented students who have finished these courses are now working as documentarists. I believe the situation has advanced immensely.
Q: The title of your film includes the words “Part 1.” Is there a sequel coming up?
LH: Yes, there is. We plan to complete it by the end of 2011 or early 2012.
(Compiled by Okuyama Shinichiro)
Moderator: Abé Mark Nornes / Interpreter: Akiyama Tamako / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Rachel Chie Miller / Video: Yamamura Masumi / 2011-10-10