YIDFF 2019 New Asian Currents
In Thy Kingdom by the Sea
An Interview with Keino Yutaro (Director)

Beautiful Solitude Created by the Sea

Q: I was struck by the sense of independence and individuality that the film showed us of those characters related to the sea, but couldn’t see any connection in the film to a “Kingdom” as in the film title. Why did you choose this title?

KY: The title comes from a phrase in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee.” “Thy” is the old form of “you.” From my perspective, it’s about “a Kingdom belonging to you all and others” taken from the common phrase “the Kingdom to come” in the Bible. My intention includes the fact of Poland being a Catholic nation where “Kingdom” is sometimes interpreted as heaven.

Q: The people speak about their lives and personal episodes they experienced in narrative terms. Did you make this film intending to weave stories together?

KY: I wasn’t particularly conscious of creating stories. However, I knew that I wanted to ask people about the sense of “living apart from each other.” Since that itself wouldn’t get me very far, I also tried copying a method from French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s films by preparing questions using words from A to Z and choosing what to ask from this list during my interviews. I asked someone else to edit the footage as we filmed, and continued shooting in reaction to the edited footage. And so due to this parallel process, we kept a general idea what the completed film would look like.

Q: You filmed a lot of people—were they all first time meetings for you? Or did you know them for long?

KY: It was different, person to person. The seaman who speaks English is someone I met at a Catholic facility for sailors. I also met the Filipino and Russian sailors there, and also the captain. The filming took place in the Baltic port town Gdynia and Kuźnica, a small town nearby on the Hel Peninsula. It wasn’t for any grand reason, but just because a friend recommended I go to Kuźnica on the other side of the bay when I first visited Gdynia.

Q: The poetic images were beautiful, and many impressionable scenes, including the lights on the embankment and the many ships that pass across the ocean. Were you mindful of anything in order to film these beautiful pictures?

KY: I filmed without really thinking much about aesthetics. I filmed about 30 percent myself, and a Chinese friend rolled the camera on around 60 percent of the film. He and I went on to make a short fiction film together after this, and I guess we shared similarities in our intents. I chose not to work with a Polish person but with him, in order to maintain the perspective of someone coming from outside.

Q: You chose Poland as your place of study. What themes do you think you can embark on in Poland?

KY: The theme of the film I made immediately before this one was “mourning a dead person.” I still have this theme in mind. When I was studying film as an undergrad, I was intrigued with the magic of how “dead people can appear in a film and look like they are alive again.” I’m thinking I’d be able to make a film about this in Poland. I’m currently writing a script that is somewhat close to that.

(Compiled by Ishizuka Shino)

Interviewers: Ishizuka Shino, Nagayama Momo / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Tokunaga Ayano / Video: Tokunaga Ayano / 2019-10-11