Voices from the Waves

(Nami no koe)

- JAPAN / 2013 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 213 min

Directors, Script, Editing, Sound: Sakai Ko, Hamaguchi Ryusuke
Photography: Sakai Ko, Hamaguchi Ryusuke, Kitagawa Yoshio
Sound Editor: Suzuki Akihiko
Producer: Aizawa Kumi (Silent Voice)
Production Company and World Sales: Silent Voice www.silentvoice.jp

A continuation of The Sound of the Waves, which screened in the “Cinema with Us” program at YIDFF 2011. Like its preceding work, this film is comprised of conversations between survivors of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as interviews where the directors appear on screen. The voices of conversing survivors are recorded together with the voices of those lost in the waves. By layering these conversations, words begin to touch the survivor’s souls, at times overcoming their experiences of the disaster to meditate on the universals of everyday life. Their mourning for all they lost is intermixed with their hope for recovery, in a film that breaks open new borders.

[Director’s Statement] Voices from the Waves is a continuation of The Sound of the Waves, which was produced in 2011. Following the same approach, it consists of interviews with survivors of the tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Whereas The Sound of the Waves covers the large area from Iwate to Fukushima roughly six months after the disaster, Voices from the Waves focuses on two locations during the year that followed—Shinchimachi in Fukushima Prefecture and Kesennuma city in Miyagi Prefecture. At YIDFF we will be screening Voices from the Waves: Shinchimachi and Voices from the Waves: Kesennuma together as one 3 hour and 33 minute film.

While conducting these interviews, we kept in mind that we didn’t want to choose interviewees based how severely they had been affected, or how striking their experiences were. Many of the survivors we met told us there were people whose experiences had been even more horrific, and that we should speak with them instead—people whose lifelines stopped after the earthquake, people whose homes were damaged, people whose homes and loved ones washed away, people whose families were swallowed by the waves. The farther you are from this “epicenter” of the disaster, the less you are able to speak. Even though our interviewees had also suffered, they seemed to feel a debt based on their lesser degree of suffering. If you were to seek that “epicenter,” you would no doubt end up seeking the voices of the dead. These voices can never be heard, and they stifle those who survived.

The 21 people who appear in this film do not only speak of the disaster. As they told their stories, their tone would shift to casual conversation. We do not only hear the voice of “victims,” but rather individual human beings. We thought it was important to keep these voices for 100 years in the future. After a century has passed, we will also be deceased, and the voices in this film will become voices of the dead. Our hope in producing Voices from the Waves is to connect the voices of our interviewees with those who vanished in the waves, who we cannot hear, at some point 100 years in the future.

- Sakai Ko

Born 1979 in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Currently based in Tokyo. Began producing his own films while a student at the Tokyo University of Agriculture. After graduating and entering the workforce, Sakai Ko entered the Graduate School of Film and New Media at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2005. His thesis film was Creep (2007). His other work includes Home Sweet Home (2006).

- Hamaguchi Ryusuke

Born 1978 in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Currently based in Kobe. After graduating from the Literature Department of Tokyo University and working as an assistant director for film and television, Hamaguchi Ryusuke entered the Graduate School of Film and New Media at the Tokyo University of the Arts. His thesis film was Passion (2008). He has directed several theatrical films including Intimacies (2012) and Touching the Skin of Eeriness (2013).