Q&A after the Screening João Moreira Salles (Director)
After the Age of the Intense Now, How to Continue Living the Everyday
Q: The film uses archive footage liberally, while also managing to convey the director’s emotional investment. How did you come to make it?
JMS: I found some footage that my mother had filmed on a trip to China. I was deeply impacted. The footage was 16 minutes in all, and I decided to use it repeatedly in the film. As the film progresses, you would understand the footage differently each time. Images from the Cultural Revolution era are rare. My mother was not supportive of Chinese ideology—rather, as a conservative Catholic from Brazil, you could say her values were the opposite. So instead of reacting to the situation in China on a political level, it was as if she was warmly embracing China on an aesthetic level. This was very interesting for me.
Q: Why did you contrast the events of May 1968 in Paris, with Prague under the Soviet invasion?
JMS: As I analyzed my mother’s footage, I tried to understand these images from the past. The question was, why did the people in the footage do what they did? The footage from a democratic society (France) and a dictatorship (Czechoslovakia) were filmed differently. The reason is political. In Paris, the camera on many instances was physically close to the people. It shows that there was no danger in using a camera. The people were protected by a system of democracy. In contrast, the footage from Prague was jarred and blurry. There is much more engraved in the images than you would first think.
Those who took up cameras in Prague in August 1968 felt a necessity to record how the various armies entered and violated the city. They could neither develop the film stock nor show the footage to others. Some of the footage is filmed anonymously, because it was dangerous for names to be made public. I was stirred by the filmmakers’ determination to record events, to be witness to history, however tragic and however dangerous it might be.
Q: How did the “deep impact” of your mother’s footage influence you?
JMS: In my mother’s film, the camera always pointed to beauty. There, I discovered a different person in my mother. Unfortunately, in real life I was never able to meet the person who she was then. That made me think. The moment of rising passion, whether it be for political reasons or because of an encounter with beauty, is always fleeting and will eventually cool down. And so the issue is, what do we do after the moment is gone and the mundane everyday returns. How do we go on and find meaning in our lives? This is indeed the question I find fascinating.
I have much respect for the activism of 1968. That generation was trying to change the world. However, it ended shortly. I am saddened by that thought. The end was tragic in Czechoslovakia, violent in Japan, and many people died in Germany and Italy, too. But I strongly hope that as we grieve, we can continue to be proud of what they had tried to do. Even if they were unable to reach their goals, their attempt to change this world to a better place is in itself admiring.
(Compiled by Numazawa Zenichiro)
Interpreter: Yamanouchi Etsuko / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Sato Hiroaki / Video: Sato Hiroaki / 2017-10-06