Yuri—About Loving(“Yuri—Aisuru ni tsuite”)
GERMANY / 2008 / Japanese / Color / Video / 64 min
Director, Editing: Azuma Mieko
Photography: Azuma Mieko, Susanne Quester
Sound Mixing: Gerhald Auer, Berthold Kröker
Executive Producer: Natalie Lambsdorff
Source: University of Television and Film Munich
Yuri and a man 48 years her senior have found each other—perhaps by coincidence, perhaps by fate. She boards the Shikoku ferry to visit and leave the island where he lives, countless times, only to return to him once again. Their feelings of fulfillment in being together and their fear of separation come and go like the rhythm of the tides. This cherished time flows by as if they were the only two people left in the world, and Yuri longs to marry him, but. . . . Speaking to her friend Yuri through the camera, the director drifts in and out of their relationship, like the shimmering waves of the calm Seto Inland Sea.
[Director’s Statement] In the late summer of 2002, at the end of a hitchhiking trip, Yuri and I met a man (Otchan) on a small island in the Seto Inland Sea. Before long, they fell in love and agreed to marry. I witnessed how the conflict between the ideal and the unfolding reality—their 48-year age gap, their different nationalities, opposition from their families—increased their isolation, and how that isolation deepened their love for each other. When I told Yuri that I wanted to make a documentary about her and Otchan, she replied breezily: That’s why I was there when they first met.
One day, after four years of shooting, Yuri said that the camera was just like a mirror. It was painful to see herself through the lens, she said, and cut off all contact with me. But after some time passed, she asked me to meet her at a coffee shop, where she began to talk slowly and clearly in front of the camera. She had a dialogue with the camera, that is to say, a dialogue with herself as she has been captured on film.
A documentary can sometimes be aggressive and has the power to destroy reality. However, it sometimes becomes a mirror and provides an opportunity to examine oneself. At the festival in Yamagata this year, I am looking forward to seeing how this film becomes a mirror for the audience, and what they see when they look into it.
Born in 1977 in Kyoto, Azuma majored in metalwork at the Kanazawa College of Art. Since graduation in 2000, she has lived in Germany and is now studying documentary film at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF). In 2008 she received a Starter Film Prize from the city of Munich and the German DAAD Prize for Yuri and Tuesday (for which she was cinematographer). She is now working on her first feature, August, scheduled for release in 2010.