“hibi” AUG

JAPAN / 2022 / Japanese / Color / DCP / 120 min

- Director, Photography, Editing, Sound: Maeda Shinjiro
Music: «an object of metamorphose» by Fukushima Satoshi and Hamaji Junichi
Performed by: Yamauchi Atsuko, Kimura Kei, Fukushima Satoshi, Hamaji Junichi

A feature length film cut together of footage shot in August every year for fifteen years, in accordance with shooting and editing instructions set by the director: fifteen seconds a day for thirty-one days. Shooting is stipulated to begin at a different time each day following the movement of the moon, starting at midnight on nights with a full moon. The director extracted fifteen seconds from each day and edited them together. Each month shows the passing of time from sunrise to sunset, while on days it was not possible to shoot, the date is displayed instead. The shots are assembled with no nexus, but from time to time the sound of music or reading aloud disturbs them, and the director’s gaze appears. The film is an attempt at awakening the viewer’s memory, freeing it from meaning, and allowing it to be spun anew. (KH)

[Director’s Statement] This is a work that was created according to the filming and editing instructions set by the filmmaker, to shoot one fifteensecond clip each day and splice them together in order. They consist mainly of everyday scenes that were chanced upon, but on some days also specific places, acquaintances, and narration. They were shot in an improvisational way, with an idea of how the footage might be connected. The purpose of this work is not to accurately record the filmmaker’s daily life. Even if the images are an accumulation of reality, the other filmmaker named Maeda Shinjiro who appears in the film exists apart from reality. It is his first-person gaze that is the main character who guides us through the film’s world.

Initially, I chose August for the simple reason that my work is relatively slow, and made the decision to shoot every year. It was only after I began working on the project that I came to think consciously of how August is a significant month in Japan, in which the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II ended, and the Obon festival to commemorate ancestors and the deceased is held.

Production lasted fifteen years, from 2008 and the global financial crisis, to 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. Japan suffered the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Prime Minister changed several times, the era changed from Heisei to Reiwa, and in 2020 COVID-19 turned into a pandemic. Seen from another angle, it overlaps with the period in which smartphones and social media came to pervade society. Also, some viewers may notice that the main character (who belongs to the filmmaker) got married twice and had cancer surgery. This film is a record of the gaze of an individual living through fifteen years of the early 21st century. I wonder whether this gaze may even at times resemble that of a terrorist.

As the audience stares at the countless number of things they have seen/ things they have never seen projected on the screen, some might overlap with their own memories. And they might suddenly remember things they had forgotten, or they might be confronted with the forgetfulness that human beings are endowed with. I hope there are moments when the movie becomes bound up with the audience’s own memories, and gives them new meaning.

- Maeda Shinjiro

Born in Osaka in 1969 and currently lives in Gifu. He has been active as a filmmaker since the beginning of the 1990s, working across fields that include experimental film, documentaries, and media art. He actively collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and performers, using techniques that range widely from photography and image mapping to live projection and online transmission. Serving as the supervising director of the SOL CHORD video label, he also devotes himself to DVD publishing and online movie projects. In recent years, he has treated visual image media as an “instrument for discovering the unknown” and has implemented methods based on self-imposed rules for creating works from documentary material that contains the unconscious as recorded by the filmmaker. He is a professor at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS).