An Interview with J-P Passi (Director)
Laughter with Love
Q: There are several scenes that are edited in such a way as to make the protaganists with mental disabilities seem funny. Since you have spent so much time with the band, did you think a lot about the ways in which you should film them and how to edit what you did film?
JP: I didn’t just want to make a movie. I was convinced that this film should absolutely be an amusing piece of work. This is because I had spent so many enjoyable hours with the band members. Since the process of making this film itself was so funny, it was inevitable that the film would become filled with laughter. However, as I included these humorous scenes in the film, I worried about what their parents, friends, and the people who were helping them would think upon seeing the film. I did not want to insult anyone. Something that often happens in films about the mentally disabled is that they wind up being looked down upon, as if they were merely children. I wanted to avoid that. I am on the same level as them, and I wanted to film them as honestly as possible.
Q: Did you and Jukka Kärkkäinen discuss the ways in which you wanted to film the band before starting your movie?
JP: We didn’t really discuss how we should film them. Thankfully, the minute we met the four band members, we immediately began to like them and they us. Our relationship quickly became a very intimate one. So we filmed them as if we were members of the band ourselves.
Q: Since you were so close to them, do you feel your relationship influenced what they did in the film?
JP: The band showed us how they felt by talking, by screaming, by crying, by laughing—they showed us very clearly in all these different ways. That’s one thing I think we all have to learn from them.
There aren’t many people who can honestly express what they’re feeling when in front of a camera, are there? I think that they were incredibly brave to have so honestly expressed what they were feeling, and at the same time it makes me jealous.
Q: How did the band members and their family-members respond when you showed them the completed film?
JP: They said that they liked the film and that it was a good movie. At the first movie screening, we invited their family-members and people close to the band. During the film, there was clapping, laughter, a few shouts from the audience, and at the end of the film they gave a standing ovation. There is this issue of whether the audience laughs with the band members, or at them. Actually, there were people within the audience who said, “This movie was really good, beacuse instead of laughing at the band members, we were able to laugh with them.” However, I personally think that this movie makes people laugh at them. But it is a laughter filled with love. How they are laughed at becomes an issue sometimes because there are different types of laughter. I want the audience to feel their own emotions freely. And I want people to understand that this is a movie about these four people and their families, and it’s not in anyway meant to be an afront to them.
(Compiled by Iida Yukako)
Interviewers: Iida Yukako, Iwata Kohei / Interpreter: Yamanouchi Etsuko / Translator: Justin-Jinich Leah
Photography: Suzuki Noriko / Video: Nakata Ryo / 2013-10-11