An Interview with Iwasaki Takamasa (Director)
To Behold People Who Behold
Q: Although I live in Sendai, my personal life was only minimally disrupted by the disaster. Perhaps that’s why four years later today, I find myself thinking less and less about the disaster area. Your film however, lets us feel that Fukushima and the neighboring regions are close to us. Why did you decide to portray Fukushima through visiting outsiders, instead of showing Fukushima’s landscape itself?
IT: One of the motivations for this film was the so-called Landscape Theory, inspired by Adachi Masao’s 1969 film AKA Serial Killer. It traces empty landscapes of places that serial killer Nagayama Norio might have seen during his life, like Abashiri, Hokkaido where he was born, and Tokyo, the city that provided work for masses from the countryside in the post-war years of growth. Inspired by this film, I thought of filming people who film the landscape—another “Landscape Theory,” if you may.
Q: Can you tell us about how you met Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Chung Chu-ha, and Tsuyuguchi Keiji and what was the process of making this film?
IT: Nikolaus Geyrhalter was in Fukushima to shoot his film Sometime. Curator Shikata Yukiko asked me to help him around as I was also in the area filming locations. So it was through that introduction and through the production, that I got connected with those who were filming Fukushima. From there, I gradually started to film these people who were themselves filming the local landscape.
I first learned about photographer Chung Chu-ha through his book of photographs Does Spring Come to Stolen Fields? All the photographs in this publication were Fukushima landscapes. I went to the opening talk event of his exhibition and got to know him. As my own themes gradually started to sharpen, I started to film little by little. Although Mr. Geyrhalter wasn’t able to visit Fukushima more than once, the photographers Chung and Tsuyuguchi visited several times and I was able to guide and accompany them on their every trip and film them from my side.
Q: The poems you use in the film are very expressive. Why did you use poetry?
IT: I knew that just filming people filming and interviewing them would not be enough for this work. As a student of literary theory, I came upon the idea of using poetry and visual images together. As Chung’s photo exhibition travelled from Minamisoma City in Fukushima to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Okinawa, I accompanied the tour and was responsible for recording everything. During the trip, I met the poet Kawazu Kiyoe who recited a poem that connected Fukushima with Hiroshima. It inspired me to create a combination of image and poetry in my film. There was also Wakamatsu Jotaro from Minamisoma City who had been part of a research mission to the Ukraine after Chernobyl. He had written a prophetic poem that seemed to foresee the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I use it at the beginning of the film in order to contrast the two worlds—the worlds before and after the “symptoms.”
(Compiled by Takahashi Nina)
Interviewers: Takahashi Nina, Suwa Keiju / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Suzuki Moyu / Video: Oki Seiichiro / 2015-09-16 in Yamagata