An Interview with Imamura Ayako (Director)
All My Faults Laid Bare
Q: Before you began your journey, did you have specific ideas about the kind of film you were going to make?
IA: My escort Hotta and I both thought that we would make a heart-warming film, one that thanks all the people we encountered and who helped us throughout the journey. I also visualized a film about my gradual growth and evolving ability to communicate, but we ended up making something completely different, which surprised the both of us.
Q: You were continuously reprimanded by your escort Hotta, and your relationship progressively became strained—what did you think of Hotta at the midway point of your journey?
IA: At first, I thought, “This is the start of an exciting journey,” but I was reprimanded a lot from the very first day, so I was also thinking, “Why is he so angry?” At night, when I was alone, I honestly reflected, “Oh, Hotta is reprimanding me for my own good,” but when morning came, and I was reprimanded again over the same thing, I would think, “He doesn’t have to be so harsh, saying it like that.” When I was alone again at night, I would repeat, “He is reprimanding me for my own good.”
Q: Did you ever dare to do something that would anger Hotta specifically for the film?
IA: We were doing an average of 70 kilometers a day, so I was mentally and physically exhausted, without even a spare thought for the film. I lost the will to operate the camera, so Hotta told me, “At this rate, you won’t be able to make the film,” and came to operate the camera himself. Even when he was reprimanding me, he was operating the camera. At the time, I thought, “I will definitely not be using this scene.” Because I’m the director, I could always cut things out afterwards in editing, so I didn’t even tell him, “Stop filming.” Because of this, all my faults were laid bare. After the journey was over, I was very depressed, thinking, “I didn’t do a single thing that a director should—what have I been doing all this time?” Then, Hotta said, “If you think you weren’t able to do what you set out to do, why not present that state of inability in the film?” At the time, I hadn’t sorted through my feelings yet, nor been able to even think about what kind of film I would make, but those words stayed in my mind.
Q: In the final stages of the journey, Will, a traveling foreigner who lost his hearing, joins you. What did you feel when you met him?
IA: I thought that it was a miraculous encounter. He was also going to Cape Soya, so the three of us traveled the last 6 days together. If it had just been the two of us, I would have been reprimanded, but with the three of us, it was fun, so at first, I was happy. However, Will, who had an even more difficult time with communication than I did because he was a foreigner and deaf, actively joined the group of bicyclists, and mingled with them. That was both enviable and frustrating, and it gradually became difficult to be with him. But Hotta told me, “The reason you can’t communicate is not because you are deaf, but because you’ve no skill for it,” and at that moment, those words settled my heart for the first time.
Q: Did you notice any changes in yourself upon completing this journey?
IA: Even now, I still need to muster up courage and am still bad at joining a group of people who are talking. But I’ve become able to reach out when it’s one on one, or when I feel that “I really want to talk to this person.” I’ve stopped thinking, “Because I’m deaf, I’ll probably just be a bother to this person.”
(Compiled by Okawa Akihiro)
Interviewers: Okawa Akihiro, Kusunose Kaori / Sign Language Interpreter: Suzuki Akiko / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Satsusa Takahiro / Video: Satsusa Takahiro / 2017-10-10