An Interview with Nakamura Kazuhiko (Director)
A Film That Can Connect Worlds
Q: I heard this was your first attempt at documentary filmmaking.
NK: I was groping around as I was filming since I didn’t study documentary filmmaking from anyone in particular. The only reason I was able to finish this film is because of my two foundational experiences. One is that I had an experience as an assistant director for some narrative films. The other is that I have worked to film soccer matches. To shoot a soccer game, you basically need at least three cameras, however, we didn’t have enough cameramen to operate all the cameras, so one of us had to operate two cameras simultaneously. For the fist time in my life, I experienced a cramped hand while running around between the field and the locker room during the halftimes. I started filming the games just because I loved soccer so much, but the more I knew them, the more I wanted to film them (the mentally disabled soccer players) and I got so involved that I felt like I had to make a comprehensive film for them. I did not have the option to quit in the middle or to do a half-hearted job. There was something intriguing about them that drew me to them. Though it was my first documentary, and though it was really difficult, it was super-interesting and very enjoyable to make this film. I had to send each player a letter to ask for filming permission, so I had to often deal with people directly . . . those experiences were both the hardest and the most enjoyable part of it. Probably, very rarely in my life will I be facing people so extensively. I am planning, and have started to film a hearing-impaired girl’s soccer team at the training camp for my next film.
Q: I heard you discovered something through filming.
NK: I didn’t know anything about mentally disabled people before, so I discovered many things through my filming process. The first thing is that there are so many different kinds of people. The soccer players were lightly disabled people. Their disabilities were so slight that our producers asked us, “Is there any difference between these players and a normal, unimpaired person?” I think it was more meaningful filming them because it was hard to tell if they are disabled or not. Before doing this project I would have never thought that a lightly disabled person would have their own sets of worries and troubles over the fact that they are disabled. It is easy for us to film subjects that are easily distinguished to the eye, but the fact that it was hard to distinguish the disabled players from normal players made the film even more worth filming.
Q: I heard that you took great care in the perspective of the film so that you could retain a wide range of audience.
NK: I myself did not know any mentally disabled people personally. Doing the filming was my crash course in this topic, so I figured it would naturally be an easy-to-watch film for people who know little about disabilities. I was more worried about how people who are interested in welfare would react to this film’s perspective. But I know that sports are sports, soccer is soccer, and so I didn’t worry about being prejudice toward one side or the other. What I really wanted to achieve was to be lenient towards both sides. I hoped that people who wouldn’t watch welfare films, narrative films, nor documentary films, nor for that matter any films at all, would want to watch my film. I think this film is a rare type of film that is easily received by any type of audience. Anyway, I would rather that people don’t think about it so much, but watch the film just because they like soccer. Through this film I was able to get connected to a different breed of soccer players within the world of soccer, and the soccer players themselves were able to get connected to the world through soccer, so I just wanted this film to be able to connect one world to another.
(Compiled by Endo Akiko)
Interviewers: Endo Akiko, Nishioka Hiroko / Translator: Paul Mikaelsen
Photography: Wasada Yuko / Video: Sonobe Mamiko / 2007-10-08