YIDFF 2007 New Asian Currents
Back Drop Kurdistan
An Interview with Nomoto Masaru (Director), Osawa Kazuo (Producer)

I Felt that Not Filming Would Be “Running Away”

Q: Tell us about the development of this film.

Nomoto Masaru (NM): I was a student at a film school and needed to find a subject for my thesis project. I was always interested in war and areas of poverty but I couldn’t just go to Iraq like that, so I thought about filming something closer to me, and by chance I happened to see a flyer about Kurd refugees. I met the Kazankiran family and immediately decided to film them.

They had this strong will to emphasize their own position, which is something I just didn’t have. That is why I wanted to look at them from close up. However, when I brought up this project in the film school, it was turned down during the planning meeting. My teacher told me that with such limited time and that at the level I was at, it would be impossible to film it. When I went to tell the Kazankiran family that I couldn’t film them for my school project, I heard the plan about the sit-in in front of the United Nations University. The family was trying to fight now, so why couldn’t I film them? I felt that not filming them would be “running away,” so I dropped out of school. It wasn’t about the school or things like that, I was just happy to have found something that I wanted to film.

Q: Mr. Osawa (the producer), when did you start to get involved?

Osawa Kazuo (OK): Nomoto was a classmate of mine at the film school. I saw the compiled images taken in Japan and thought, “That’s a not film yet.” That is because it was lacking in any objective view. Nomoto didn’t know anything, but as he got closer to the people in the Kazankiran family, he had no choice but to face this problem they were into. Seeing him struggling in this was the most interesting part of the film, but it wasn’t well shown. I was talking to him about this and that and before I knew it I was involved too.

Q: What were the struggles involved in making this film?

NM: The people around the Kazankiran family were trying to help them and were taking the initiative in doing so, but I wasn’t. I wanted to start this with just “knowing.” I was close to the family but this had nothing to do with helping them. I felt this sense of guilt for not directly doing anything to help them. It was also my first feature film, and I couldn’t see the ending. I didn’t know where to finish the film until the very end. It was with the last scene of the film, the airport scene, that I thought “OK, I can end it here.” When I filmed that scene, I was able to transcend the fact that the Kazankiran family were Kurds and refugees.

Q: Did you have any conflict of opinion between director and producer during the filming?

OK: Nomoto likes to take small stories and turn them around and around. I cut all of that. Also, he only takes close-up shots. He doesn’t take any long shots or landscapes, so it was difficult during the editing process.

NM: I want to look closely should anyone do something. If you take it in zoom, it’s not interesting.

Q: Where did the title Back Drop Kurdistan come from?

NM: We were drinking with friends, talking about what we should name the film and I just let that out. I thought that backdrop (a wrestling move) was a good term to describe the aggressive aspect of the Kazankiran family. I’m sort of sad to say that there is no deeper meaning to it than that, though.

(Compiled by Murakami Yumiko)

Interviewers: Murakami Yumiko, Sato Hiroaki / Translator: Maxime Berson
Photography: Yamamoto Shoko, Mineo Kazunori / Video: Sato Hiroaki / 2007-09-23 / in Tokyo