The Shepherd’s Story / Shinjuku 2009 + Ogaki 2010(Hitsujikai monogatari)
JAPAN / 2011 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray (HD) / 42 min
Directors: Maeda Shinjiro, Suzuki Hikaru
Photography, Sound: Ikeda Yasunori, Matsushima Shunsuke
Source: Maeda Shinjiro
Inoue Shinta is a flat-surface artist who has been working on “Project Shepherd” in and out of Japan since 1998. He’s a shepherd who wanders through cities that are defined by the words of taxi drivers and barbershop owners; pushing around his cart, tending to faceless and grazing 2-D sheep, one of which becomes lost and overhears various people talking about where they would like to live. While the film goes in search of a subtle form of communication, the scenery of Shinjuku and Ogaki takes shape according to a perfectly matched score created by the directors.
[Director’s Statement] This project originated with our participation in Treasure City, a public art exhibition on the theme of “the archives of Shinjuku.” Searching for a way to document a city, we decided to focus on the documentary character of fictional films. For example, when you watch Ozu Yasujiro’s Tokyo Story, in addition to enjoying the story itself, you understand the way the city looked and how people lived at that time. Scenes in Ginza, Ueno Park, and elsewhere serve the additional purpose of providing valuable documentary footage. It is not unusual for visual media to document scenes of an era in a way that surpasses the creator’s original intentions. This led us to the idea of producing a film while being conscious of this aspect from the start. We would prepare a score (a design) that distilled the elements of the city and placed them on a timeline, which we would use to shoot the film. Inoue Shinta Project of Shepherd 1999, which screened at YIDFF 1999, was an art documentary about the Shepherd Project that the artist Inoue Shinta began in Germany in 1997. The Shepherd’s Story is a separate series. There may be some confusion, because Inoue Shinta appears as a shepherd in this new series. The story is that the shepherd grazes his flock as he searches for a lost sheep. But the content of the story is less important than the documentation of scenes of the city and the people who live there. When we thought about spinning out time in a film while documenting the diversity of information in a city, the “shepherd” seemed to be a perfect fit for that role.
Born in 1969, Maeda Shinjiro is a graduate of the art research graduate program at Kyoto Seika University. Conceiving of visual media as a “tool for discovering the unknown,” he has produced works that use computers for automatic editing and films that are shot according to predetermined rules. He has often engaged in collaborations with artists from other fields, such as contemporary and performance art. His works include On (2000, Hong Kong International Film Festival) and “hibi” 13 full moons (YIDFF 2005). Since 2005, he has supervised the DVD label Sol Chord. In 2011, he produced BETWEEN YESTERDAY & TOMORROW, an improvised film made according to written instructions. Maeda is an associate professor at the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences.
Born in 1984, Suzuki Hikaru is a graduate of the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences. His works include Doraemon (Gunma Biennale for Young Artists, 2008), Slaked Lime (Art Award Tokyo, 2008), and a personal documentary about his religious father, God and Father and Me (Koenji Documentary Film Festival, 2010). Recently he has made a series of films that start with recording people’s stories with a microphone. His most recent work is a short film, Comfortable Island (2011), that reinterprets the methodology of cinema vérité, and he is currently working on a follow-up.