An Interview with Agatsuma Kazuki (Director)
For Me, Hadenya Is Not a Subject, But Something Very Precious
Q: When you use your cell phone to film Shintaro, who is close in age, and the place where his house had been swept away by the tsunami after the earthquake disaster, his expression left such a strong impression, and I was completely choked up. How did you film that scene?
AK: That was two days after the disaster. I saw him by chance, and we walked together, talking all the while. He didn’t ask me not to film, and I didn’t ask either how he felt, and that was when I shot that scene.
Q: The film has both color, and black and white scenes—what kinds of meanings did these have?
AK: The time following the disaster was like being thrown out into a vague other world. After some years, I was able to look back, and finally add colors. I am trying to visually manifest that feeling.
Q: Because you were filming Hadenya before the disaster, we are able to see images of it both before and after the disaster, and that was so compelling. How were you planning to harness this in your film?
AK: It is precisely because I portray Hadenya from before the disaster that I am able to more convincingly portray what the people of Hadenya want to recover, what they picture when they try to stay on the land.
Q: Watching Mikio, who was one of the very first people to call for a revival of the traditional lion dance, actively dissociate himself out of a difference of opinion, I felt quite frustrated. How did you feel about this?
AK: Actually, I sympathized best with Mikio’s feelings. I thought Mikio and his group were great. I heard that they wanted to do things themselves, without relying on others’ support, and I also back that sentiment. But, I guess Mikio was not actually able to convey his thinking very well. The village committee members were also working very hard, driven by their thoughts for the village, and the feeling of wanting to do something. It’s only that their methods are different, but they are full of love for their hometown. I thought that it would be best if things went the way Mikio wanted, but I understand how both sides must feel, so even I was very frustrated.
Q: You were originally conducting research on folklore—might I ask what brought you to filmmaking?
AK: When I was in the fifth grade, I thought that I wanted to be a film director when I grew up. But when I was in middle school, my experience of making films was catastrophic, and I got a real, clear feel for my abilities, so I thought that I mustn’t make any films for ten years. But I’m a contrary person, so I didn’t go to film school, and instead thought about how to express my world view. It was pure coincidence that I had an interest in folklore studies, and it was through an examination of folk customs at university that I encountered Hadenya. Over time, my desire to film these people grew stronger. So, immediately after I graduated from university, I began filming. I think the film exhibits the marked influence of folklore studies perspectives.
Q: At the end, there is a “To be continued” note, but is your next subject decided?
AK: I think the method of transmission doesn’t have to be limited to film, but as a chronicler, the nature of my relationship with the area will endure. For me, Hadenya is not a subject, but something very precious. That will be true even from hereon in, so that’s why it’s not “The End” at the closing. At that point, the words that came up most naturally were “To be continued.”
(Compiled by Kusunose Kaori)
Interviewers: Kusunose Kaori, Nagayama Momo / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Satsusa Takahiro / Video: Numazawa Zenichiro / 2017-10-07