An Interview with Kaveh Mazaheri (Director)
Fulfilled by a Life that Seems Unpleasant
Q: From the onscreen Mina we get an impression of a woman who is at once steeling herself to face what she must each day, and yet somehow taking a philosophical view of it all. What kind of impression did you get when you met her in real life?
KM: When I first came to the park where these women were I could see from afar that a fire was lit. From afar I had no idea whether Mina was a man or a woman.
I had been observing their situation for about a month before I approached them. They looked at me and the first thing they said was “please, come in.” So I’d been invited in, but it’s not like there was an entrance, or a room. At this point I thought that inside of their heads they have some image of a home, with the kitchen somewhere, with the living room somewhere. They were hanging all kinds of things on the walls, and I thought maybe that area where the fire was lit could be the kitchen.
I got the impression that Mina was different from the other homeless people. I chose her as my subject because I thought I’d like to go into that house that she’d build inside her head.
Q: So for her the park was quite naturally a house, and the people around her were like a family to her?
KM: There is one really representative anecdote, from when there was a blizzard in the city. Even in the south, where she was, they had about thirty centimeters of snow. People could hardly live through such conditions, I thought, but nevertheless she did.
Another time, on a night when we were going to film, there was a downpour. Thinking surely she wouldn’t be in that park on a night like this, I went with a crew of two or three to have a look, and sure enough there was no one there but her. There in the driving rain, just Mina had remained inside her own house.
It’s possible to think about the people around her as like family, but I feel like it’s more appropriate to call her more than family, more like a godmother to the people around her. She always has these dogs with her. And the people around her—some are only there for a short time, and others for longer—but to them Mina is more than a mother. I think that for them she is a bigger presence than just family.
Q: I understand that when you were a child your father left you and your brothers to live life on the streets. It seems that this film is trying to delve into your questions about your father. I’m sure that since you made this film you’ve had opportunities to hear opinions and impressions from lots of different people, but has your understanding of these questions about your father deepened?
KM: From our perspective Mina, too, seems to live this impoverished life where even when she sleeps she can’t manage to take sufficient shelter from the wind and rain. But she is satisfied with this, and maybe my father was also satisfied with a life like Mina’s. Without any responsibility to his own family, maybe just like her he was more fulfilled by a life that seems, at a glance, to be unpleasant.
Since I made this film I have talked to many kinds of people, but in most cases women were the ones who picked up on the finer points. I felt like this film was of more interest to women than it was to men.
(Compiled by Daimaru Hinano)
Interviewers: Daimaru Hinano, Fukushima Nana / Interpreter: Takada Forug / Translator: Tyler Walker
Photography: Iwata Kohei / Video: Uno Yukiko / 2015-10-09