An Interview with Adachi Masao (Director)
Confronting the Melting World
Q: It’s the first time you participated in YIDFF. What is your impression?
AM: When I received the invitation, I was initially eager to discover young filmmakers, especially from Asia, who challenge and investigate realities, unearth something new and carry it to unique forms of expression. I was looking forward to meeting new forces of energy.
Among the International Competition films that I was asked to watch as juror, I was very happy to find some such films. I met filmmakers with that kind of new energy and was able to talk with them. As I wrote in my juror’s statement in the official catalogue, Ogawa Shinsuke and I once discussed the importance of an environment where filmmakers and film viewers can sit together knee-to-knee and really talk. The YIDFF really has created that place. The space and time of a rural locale is perfect for a cinema community. That’s what I find wonderful. The drawback is that the festival has become too big, and you can’t see the programs you want to. There were many films I wanted to see but couldn’t.
Q: Was there any particular trend shared among the International Competition films you saw?
AM: If you go back to the origins of documentary, the fact of our lives should be explored not just by using convenient memory systems. Documentary should face issues squarely and explore them from the fore. What you discover there is recorded and conveyed in a message. But in fact the world today seems to be melting together. Television, websites, and all those things are melting into the media of cinema. Filmmakers present their work as “documentary” but in fact, everyone in front of a camera, including me here now, becomes an actor. The image of someone who is not real and a person in a documentary are no longer different from each other in relation to the filmmaker. So it seems to me strange to distinguish documentary and drama now. However you frame reality, however you edit it, the work becomes the filmmaker’s statement—and that no longer is just fact.
Through this perspective, you can see that many films in the International Competition have gone to the point where film subjects turn into performers. It’s common now for filmmakers to be aware that in documentary too, cameras turn their subjects into actors, and they take advantage of that. We on the jury discussed this point from the start. When you try something novel like that, you’re apt to fail. If you are afraid of failure, there’d be no point in the experiment. So I would have expected a more audacious attempt in that sense.
Q: What do you think will make YIDFF better?
AM: I saw 15 films in the International Competition. But I know that these are 15 chosen from over 1000 titles. Gradually I began to doubt whether these 15 were the best. There could have been a film I really loved among the films not selected. So I suggest the Festival disclose the process of narrowing down the 15 out of 1000. That would be in tune with the knee-to-knee Yamagata where filmmakers and audiences can discuss films in earnest.
Q: In this contemporary age when everything is melting together, what should documentary do?
AM: On one hand documentary should return to its origin, as I said earlier. On the other hand, regardless whether drama and documentary, how cinema will confront this melting world? Filmmakers should consider methods in a freer manner, to try methods unique to their own and experiment. To young people I wish to strongly urge them to be bold and not afraid of failing, in venturing with new forms and approaching subjects.
Further, if you’d ask me what documentary is, it is nothing else but “How to denounce this contemporary world.” It’s the same for drama. If you say that drama should confront the times and depict the people who live in this cursed age, documentary is exactly the same. As those kinds of differences have disappeared, the real role of documentary is not to follow that ambiguous “melting” reference but to present new methods and ways of thinking.
(Compiled by Shibasaki Narumi)
Interviewers: Shibasaki Narumi, Nomura Yukihiro / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Kusunose Kaori / Video: Kusunose Kaori / 2013-10-16