An Interview with Okamoto Mana (Director)
Parent and Child Once More
Q: The situation with your family is something that has always been present for you, so why did you decide to make a film about it now?
OM: It was because I felt that the relationship between my father and my brother, which had seemed like it might just stay the same forever, had taken a step forward. For me this was a very moving thing. Personally, for a long time I had repressed my feelings toward my father, but with this I feel like things that had been dormant for a long time came to the surface.
My brother was always a person who lived life to the fullest while still harboring this conflict with our father, and there was a time when it really hurt me to see this. When I was filming and my brother told me about his past feelings with complete honesty it was the first time I’d heard anything like this from him. When he met his current wife and felt this thing called “love,” I think it brought about a big change in his frame of mind. It seems like he then began to think of his own life with a kind of objectivity, to be willing to allow someone else to examine it as a particular human life.
I think he may also have picked up on my feelings as a child.
I was worried that filming my own family might make for an extremely personal film, but I wondered if maybe my family didn’t have something to share with viewers.
Q: I thought that the balance between the fun scenes that are overflowing with your family’s sense of humor and the serious scenes was quite good. Your use of music and the number of dance scenes was also striking. What sort of process led to this kind of composition?
OM: I was really strongly fixated on what music to use. When I first heard Meigen wo ioutoshinai by Lantern Parade I felt its connection to these emotions that my family had been dealing with forever. This song was one of the reasons I decided to make the film, and so I decided to include it at the end.
Aside from that, since deep down we’re a a fun-loving family by nature we just like to dance and sing. I didn’t know why my mother was dancing in the living room, but when I saw her feeling so good I turned the camera on immediately. I couldn’t predict anything that my family did, but yes, I did fundamentally want to include a dancing scene.
Q: You appear in the film sometimes yourself. Did you have any particular intentions in doing so?
OM: I wasn’t so inclined to film myself, but I wanted the viewer to know what kind of person is doing the filming. Also, I’ve always had a sense of isolation inside, so the scenes that depict me by myself express my act of facing up to that aspect. I think that the scene of me dancing in the snow, even though I shot it during a snowstorm and it was really tough, became a better scene because of that.
Q: This was your first film as a director. Will you continue to make films in the future?
OM: Yes. Next I’d like to make a fantastical film. I think that reality is linked to fiction in some ways, and vice-versa. People perform in the course of their daily lives, and we feel truth in made-up things, don’t we? So I’d like to try and make a film in which those feelings are intermingled.
(Compiled by Ishizawa Kana)
Interviewers: Ishizawa Kana, Takahashi Nina / Translator: Tyler Walker
Photography: Miyata Mariko / Video: Harashima Aiko / 2015-10-09