An Interview with Daishima Haruhiko (Director)
The Feel of Memories Flowing from A Well
Q: I imagined a strongly political film as the topic is on the Sanrizuka struggle, but I got a completely different impression. I felt just as if I were listening to the stories of older men and women in farming villages from Yamagata. In creating the film, did you consciously try to make them a familiar presence?
DH: The people who fought at that time are now actually older men and women. They threw bullets of feces and urine and carried sickles. All of the farmers who fought along side the New Left did the same. And yet we only know of the Sanrizuka struggle through T.V., newspapers, and the “legend” in the film by Ogawa Productions. Historically all that remains is stereotypes and prejudices. People fought as they did in Narita: Peasants of the Second Fortress and it is a fact that they stretched and linked their bodies to hold back the riot police. However, I found out after actually meeting them that the people who fought are nameless, ordinary people. Because I had only seen this in the Ogawa Production films, my preconceptions came crashing down.
Q: Was it difficult to in the film summarize the thoughts of each of the people who appeared?
DH: They fought a long time ago and nowadays don’t speak on a daily basis about what happened back then. The area around Narita airport has entered a new era where people live in harmony with the airport, and particularly there are some people who moved from villages who harbor guilty feelings, so the atmosphere is one that people do not want to talk about the past. As it were, the well of memories is drying up and these memories lay blocking life afterward. However, these people have carried the memories for a long time. Before going to hear their stories, I wanted to get the feeling that the well of memories that had gone dry had started to flow again. When I actually went and visited, the well had gone dry from the people not being asked much about what happened in the past. But very slowly the well dampened, and the water of memories began to flow naturally. Then the water vein flowing beneath the well joined with everyone else’s. This is what flows throughout the entire film. Human beings want to forget sad and painful times from the past, but these are very important in life. This is what I filmed. I did it optimistically.
Q: How do you feel about the film being shown at this year’s YIDFF?
DH: If Otsu Koshiro were still alive, I think he would be very happy. He and Ogawa Shinsuke partnered until they produced the first film in the Sanrizuka series, Summer in Narita, and then parted ways. For Otsu, this film was the link to The Wages of Resistance: Narita Stories. I believe Otsu would have been very happy that both films were able to be made—one of the early stages of the struggle and the other forty years later. I plan to bring him along in spirit to Yamagata.
Q: Is there a theme you are thinking about for the future?
DH: I met various people in activities for screening The Wages of Resistance: Narita Stories, including people from the New Left. There are those among the sect whose lives have changed because of Sanrizuka. From the late 70s, they became heroes of the struggle and another drama was born where the protagonists were not the farmers. There was also a division of internal strife and opposition alliance. Perhaps that era in Japan’s postwar history was possessed by evil spirits. I want to portray these spirits—particularly the ones that settled in Sanrizuka.
(Compiled by Numazawa Zenichiro)
Interviewers: Numazawa Zenichiro, Suzuki Noriko / Translator: Kat Simpson
Photography: Suzuki Noriko / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2015-09-25 in Tokyo