An Interview with Watanabe Satoshi (Director)
The Richness of the Heart, Once Again
Q: This film was completed over a much extended period of time, but what were your feelings about making the film?
WS: For this film, I wanted to capture the expressions of real people enjoying the food they eat, or the moments where people actually meet up and communicate with each other, rather than it just being a film that offers information. By living in Yamagata and spending a long time working on it—I suppose it’s obviously so but—the interaction between my subjects and I became very natural. That way the interviews do not become just information but instead garners more depth. Because I spent so much time on it, the things I could feel from the subjects changed to something totally different. Those who work with crops are always concerned about loss. With the modernization of farming, they wonder if their traditional ways may have become outdated. That is why it needs to be documented now. That way, things can be transferred down to their children. I think that that is why they let me interview them.
Q: What is the reason behind your continued filmmaking around your hometown, Yamagata?
WS: My feelings for Yamagata were strongest back when I was living in Tokyo. When I was in college in Yamagata, I happened to have been the leader of a team of fellow students who were recording and gathering footages of ethno-cultures. However, even though we spent a lot of time on shooting and therefore were able to gather a great quantity of footage, the editing did not go very smoothly and we were unable to actually create a finished film out of them. I moved to Tokyo right after this, so it felt as if I had left something behind in Yamagata.
Q: Do you ever feel that by shooting your hometown, you are confirming your own identity?
WS: I do not really understand the concept of identity so I have not given it that much thought. I feel that it is something very obscure for my generation, and I don’t believe that it is a concrete thing that you can point out. Maybe it is that I do not face myself in a very serious manner. However, rather than using the word identity; the first thing I felt when I started shooting at the farms in Yamagata was how the culture, lifestyles and values that the generations before us held highly is disappearing. And these things that are disappearing are things that do not exist at all in our lives. I want to capture those things with a camera, and even if it is only during the periods while I am working on a film I wish that I can experience these ways of life with them. Nowadays, the richness of one’s heart is often said to be in relation with human connections and emotional ties, but I believe that it is something much more basic than that. The feeling of safety one receives from being connected with his society and family, or the pride one gets from inheriting things from previous generations. But people back in the 1960s and 70s thought that these concepts were out-of-date and corny so they got abandoned. These people who thought that families are things that bind individuals, and started student movements went forward to live lives of their own without reflecting on their families. Because they could only see the one drastic perspective of what it means to be a family, they thought that their roots and culture was something outdated. However, there are still more than a few people who recognize these values. The way those people live will provide us with answers, when we start to remember family and cultural values, and I believe that this film also expresses those things.
(Compiled by Hiroya Motoko)
Interviewers: Hiroya Motoko, Nomura Yukihiro / Translator: Kenji Green
Photography: Horikawa Keita / Video: Okada Mana / 2011-10-11