An Interview with Oki Hiroyuki (Director)
The Position of Asian Cinema
Q: What were your impressions of this year’s New Asian Currents category?
OH: Although each documentary was unique, there were no films that met with negative reactions. So it was a very rewarding experience to act as a judge. It’s a pity that there were only a few Asian entries in the International Competition. But I think the Asian category was made up of many films that are worthy of acclaim not just in Asia, but also in Europe and the United States.
Q: What was the difference in participating as a judge and participating as a director?
OH: As I was on the side of handing out awards, it made me think about the future of each director. Rather than focusing on whether one wins an award or not, it is more important to concentrate on how the director reacts. I hope that all the directors accept the praise that their films have earned and that it creates a new artistic flow for them.
Q: What did you base your judging on?
OH: Me and the other judge, Shabnam, engaged in much discussion and gradually we found that “integrity” was the point that we focused upon. And what I mean by “integrity” is how much of the director’s passion towards the theme of the documentary was brought to life on screen. This is something that cannot be felt when too much importance is placed on superficial elements and distance is placed between the theme of the documentary and the director. Only integrity strengthens the punch of the film. Once we had established the criteria for judging, there was very little disagreement and that led to a mutually satisfactory judgment process.
Q: Why was “integrity” so important to you?
OH: The more convenient the environment for filming becomes, the more directors strive to create a superior film and achieve more beautiful photography. However, if this desire becomes too rigid, then the director loses sight of the importance of tackling the theme. In countries with developed filming environments, including Japan, that tendency has become more apparent. As a result, I think we’re also becoming used to the lack of content. However, I don’t think these films carry as much punch as the films that reflect the purity of the director’s emotions.
This year, after examining the 19 entries, we felt an affinity with and were very moved by the emotions of the directors reflected on the screen. None of the films were superficial and the reverence with which the directors approached their themes came across very directly. Furthermore, although the photography of these films did not demonstrate any special techniques, their themes hit home and were beautifully crafted. The directors confronted their themes and that purity is one of the most important elements of their documentaries. Of course, when it comes to shooting documentaries this is an accepted fact. And because of this I wanted to praise that kind of “integrity.” This “integrity” is the main reason why Asian documentaries are worthy of attention.
(Compiled by Takada Ayumi)
Interviewers: Minai Kyoko, Takada Ayumi / Translator: Lynne Hobday
Photography: Chiku Hiroko / Video: Ito Ayumi / 2009-10-15