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Oct.6 no.4

Kamei Fumio Dancing: A Report from the Kamei Fumio Retrospective
If I Was Kramer...
Images Don"t Lie
From Palestine... Although I Am Not with You
Yamagata Doc’s Kingdom: Currently Under Construction
Robert Kramer Retrospective
An Interview with Erika Krame
International Competitionl
An Interview with Mori Tatsuya
New Asian Currents
Chichi, the Monster
An Interview with Lin Tay-jou

Kamei Fumio Dancing: A Report from the Kamei Fumio Retrospective
Whether they feature dancing, singing mannequins, prehistoric people afraid of thunder or spaceships heading for the far reaches of outer space, the PR films screening in the Kamei Fumio Retrospective have been almost impossible to see until now, and many of them may be near impossible to see after this week. The films show us a “tough guy” who continued to fight social injustice and to make the films he wanted to make by negotiating with the publicity and promotions departments of various companies. (The generosity of a Japan that tolerated Kamei, a generosity unthinkable today, was also visible in the films.)

If I Was Kramer...
I wanted to keep the story within the parameter of the family, so I asked only protagonist Babu"s mother and sister to appear in the movie. I also wanted to use the methods of oral story-telling in Bangladesh to express the story. If I was Robert Kramer, I probably would have skipped the visual images altogether and made something entirely from the sound of Babu"s voice on the tapes he sent his family. (Yasmine Kabir, director, My Migrant Soul, New Asian Currents)

Images Don"t Lie
To express my identity, I made a film about the northern part of Thailand where I’m from. It’s also about my childhood. There aren’t any words in this work, but images are the best way to tell the truth.” (Uruphong Raksasad, director, March of Time, New Asian Currents)

From Palestine... Although I Am Not with You
The Q&A session with director Azza El-Hassan after today’s screening of News Time may have been cancelled, but that didn’t stop a standing-room-only audience from filling the theater. Director El-Hassan sent an e-mail to be read before the screening. “Ramallah city has been under siege for a year. The people whom you will watch tonight in the film are still there but they have grown more tired and more worn out because of the continuous shootings and killings.” Following the screening, one audience member commented, “I could feel the state of emergency despite the carefree attitude of the children. The film has humor and the images were bright, but it was sad and melancholic.”

Yamagata Doc’s Kingdom: Currently Under Construction
An Interview with Kees Bakker and Jose Manuel Costa
How is the Doc’s Kingdom seminar taking shape so far? Can you give us any hint as to what the topic of Monday’s program might be?

Kees: I think that based on what I’ve seen until now, there will be a topic on experimental film tied to the use of digital-film cameras. There are quite a few people running around here who know how to talk about it and who can say some pretty interesting things. Also, there are a lot of things by young filmmakers, which makes the dialogue more interesting. Young filmmakers together with someone who is more experienced could bring about some dynamic discussion. That’s what we aim for, relaxed dynamic discussion.
Watch for another update in tomorrow’s Daily Bulletin.


Guided by the Milestones:
Respect Your Intuition and Embark
on an Adventure of Self


Milestones takes place at the end of years of struggle, and the beginning of young peoples’ search for a different way of being. In the aftermath of all the fever and revolution, people tried to find anything that could connect. The Daily Bulletin talked to Erika Kramer on communication and connections between people.

Connections of Disconnection/Communication:

One time, we were looking at the stars, like stars make you do. There was one I really liked, and I wanted to share it with him. It took a long time to find the star, and we never quite shared the same star. But nothing fell apart just because he didn’t get the right star. This seemed like my whole life—we share what cannot be shared. It was a seminal moment in understanding communication.

Guided by the Milestones:

That is what Robert tried to convey in Milestones. Back then, after Ice, people were tired. They disintegrated. We deconstructed, and now we are reconstructing ourselves. We went to find ourselves. Milestones is a recapitulation of people’s lives. We are laying the guns down a little bit, and asking radical questions about ourselves just as we were asking radical questions about our country before. Kramer’s question was whether we can connect the fragments of a jigsaw puzzlefragments of the world, generation, and selfand turn it into a continuous flow. He was agitating and disseminating thoughts. He doesn’t say “This is good and this is bad.” He doesn’t emphasize certain information or images to prejudice you. His films are not just histories, they’re tools. They’re fresh, and generation after generation of people will be able to identify with them, and even young Japanese people. Robert opens pathways to the free research of self. He was on an adventure of processes.

Embarking on an Adventure of Process:

Information comes to our sense of smell, of touch, of hearing. We all get the same input, but we read it differently. Intuition is resecting that all information is true, that we are all unique. That information will give us a very good indication of the right and beautiful path of growth. Intuition is a dedication to your inner voices. If you’re dedicated to finding the right way, with your heart and intelligence, you will find your place. It’s not easy, but our challenges will free us of our limitations. I would like people to be able to find themselves through Milestones.

Milestones will screen on Sunday, October 7 at 14:00 at the Yugakukan Yamagata Prefectural Library.
•Mr. Barre Phillips will be giving a live performance after the screening of Route One, around 17:30 on October 6.

(Nanao Aika))


Thinking about Aum
means thinking about ourselves
A2 (International Competition)
An Interview with Mori Tatsuya

Director Mori Tatsuya recently completed A2 , a sequel to A, which depicted Japanese society from inside the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The Daily Bulletin was quick to catch up with Mori and A2’s producer, Yasuoka Takaharu.

DB: What prompted you to make a sequel to A?

MT: I was satisfied with A, and since A was made somewhat out of the blue, I didn’t want to be boring and make a sequel. But then came Prime Minister Obuchi’s cabinet, and as laws like the “wiretapping law” that one would think would have been stopped were passed one after the other, I felt as if Japanese society and the Japanese people were in danger of degrading even more quickly than during the time of the Sarin Gas Incident. I paid a visit the Aum facilities in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, not intending to make a film, but things just seemed to happen, and I ended up starting to film. I was surprised by the relations between the cult followers and the local residents in Fujioka (recorded in A2). A was about cutting relations with society and about what is stripped bare in the process. This bareness has gotten even worse in A2, but some people are still trying their hardest to communicate. I wondered if this might be the true form of human nature, and stated thinking that I could make this the theme of the film. This became the core of the film. This time, I thought the film would become an ensemble piece from the very beginning.

DB: Are you saying that you think Japan is becoming like Aum?

MT: Yes. We’re all supposed to be good as individuals, but when we’re together in a group we don’t use our own heads, and actually stop thinking. This tendency is particularly strong in the Japanese. Thinking about Aum means thinking about ourselves, but we aren’t even thinking at all, are we? No one has figured out why Aum released Sarin Gas in the first place, and I think this is no good. The Aum followers still think [more than the rest of us]. They lose their sense of imagination, and see everything in a kind of “good vs. evil,” “truth vs. distortion” dualism. This while real human nature lies in the grey area in between. Even the response to the recent incidents of terrorism has turned into mass support for revenge. The United States is still better as a place where inividuals voice their opinions. The Afghan border has been closed, but if we don’t let aid and essential commodities through people are going to starve to death. We’re losing the ability to think about things like this. And this is how Japan made such a huge mistake half a century ago.

DB: Did you have any aversion to being with the cult’s followers?

MT: I’m kind of thick, so it bothered me that their socks were dirty, but that was about it. I didn’t really have any aversion to them. If you’ve gone as far as to leave your home and your family behind, you’ve got to be serious and awkward. They’re people just like we are, so if we can cross that one line and relate to them, it’s only to be expected that we’ll be able to gain an understanding of each other. But we’ve stopped seeing the given as given.

DB: Many of your works are about questioning the self through social problems. Are you conscious of this from the time you choose your subjects?

MT: I’m a narcissist. (laughs) I choose my subjects intuitively, but this tendency is definitely strong in my finished works. Society is formed by individuals, so it’s only obvious if we think about it logically. The important thing is to have good will. If you make works that stay true to your thoughts and feelings instead of following theoretical arguments or philosophies, then I think the work is going to have some connection to society. It’s not about having a solid methodology. So much of documentary is always going to speak from a political angle, but I want to let even more people know about the possibilities of the genre that have yet to be cultivated.

A2 screens on Sunday, October 7 at 15:20 in the Yamagata Citizens’ Hall (Large Hall).

(Kawasumi Naoki)

I want to make
documentaries approachable
Chichi, the Monster (New Asian Currents)
An Interview with Lin Tay-jou

I think that drama is another kind of documentary.

There are many different kinds of film and video works, so it’s strange to try and describe them all with one word. We divide film and video works into genres like drama, documentary and animation, but ways of expression didn’t start out divided like this. For example, I think that drama is another kind of documentary. Why? The actors play their parts, and around them, the camera crew, the property managerso many peopleare also involved. I think that all of that is documentary. For that reason, I want to break out of the documentary mold and try all kinds of things. They’re sure to become experimental sorts of things.

A new form of documentary.

There was an earthquake in Taiwan. When I presented this film at my company, the people who had suffered in the quake were quite unhappy with me. The film has a light touch to it like a cartoon, but it still brought up their truly horrible recollections of the earthquake.
On the other hand, some people said tha it was a new form of documentary. I feel like many people find documentaries hard to approach, because so many documentaries deal with difficult or depressing issues like social problems. But by using lighter techniques like animation, I think we can make documentaries more approachable for all kinds of people. I want to break down documentaries’ dark image.

I can’t film their natural, unaffected behavior any more.

After I finished the video, I showed it to the children. When I did this, the children started to mimic themselves as they appeared on screen. It was just like they were actors.
Before seeing the video, the children only knew still images of themselves, in other words photographs. So this was their first time to see themselves moving inside the frame. I have to wonder if this set off some kind of revolution inside them. They were aware of the camera, and imitating themselves in the video. Because of this, I can’t film their natural, unaffected behavior any more. It’s really unfortunate.

Post-interview comments:

Lin Tay-jou makes films together with his wife. He has a gentle way of speaking, and was very friendly even during the interview. When I asked him about the subject of Chichi, the Monster, we ended up talking about the children. The taping started off as a record of the family, but then the earthquake happened, and everyone noticed a change in the children. He told me that they weren’t directly hurt by the earthquake, and that they had a hard time relating to the children whose lives were affected by the quake. Lin took the children to heart, and I felt like his warmth was clearly apparent during the interview.
The desire to change documentary film: I was fascinated by this strong desire during my interview with Lin. His video does indeed employ animation, and there’s clearly something interesting about it that isn’t found in other works. So, what kind of movie will he make next? Drama, animation, documentary... I’m already looking forward to seeing how he’ll use all possible existing forms of expression to come up with something new.

Chichi, the Monster will show on Sunday, October 7 from 13:30 at Muse 1.

(Konno Kikuyo)


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