YIDFF 2009 New Docs Japan
Annyong Yumika
An Interview with Matsue Tetsuaki (Director)

Hello There, Yumika-san

Q: First of all, I think it must be hard to make a film about a deceased person so soon after they have died. Why, at this point, did you decide to make a film about Hayashi Yumika?

MT: With this film I was more or less confident that it would be OK if I just filmed the people who had a connection with Yumika talking about her, in the place where they are now living. I like the kind of films that, in a really filmic way, restore a deceased person to life, or perhaps I should say recollect them, so that they take shape for the viewers. In addition, it’s interesting because I know that compared to ordinary people, those who have gazed at women’s naked bodies for years on end observe people in a different way. Although on this project the cameras started rolling soon after meeting the subjects, I was confident that it would run smoothly. If you ask why now, why Hayashi Yumika, I can only say it’s because I encountered the film Junko, a Married Woman in Tokyo by chance. If I hadn’t found that film, I wouldn’t have made this one.

Q: What was it about Junko, a Married Woman in Tokyo that attracted you?

MT: What most attracted me was the same thing as always about Yumika: no matter how awful the scenario is, she never cuts corners. With actresses nowadays, there’re many points where it feels like they’re just making films in a business-like way, and I feel like there aren’t actresses like Yumika any more. And with Junko you can see signs that they’ve really thought about the other country’s culture. There are misunderstandings, but that doesn’t mean that they’re mocking that other culture. Although it’s natural for culture clashes to occur, when they do, it’s best to directly address them, because your language becomes harsh and violent when you avoid speaking face to face. When I saw the film, I thought Yumika slipped beyond those misunderstandings. With this film I was shooting Hayashi Yumika, the actress. Rather than this being Yumika’s last starring role, I wanted this to be her latest starring role, and in that sense we encounter a new side of Yumika.

Q: What were the thoughts that went into the last scene?

MT: In the first year and a half most of the shooting was completed, but there was a period of around a year where I was worried about the editing. During that time, what I wanted to convey to the audience changed. As for why I did the last scene in that way, last year there was a string of unbelievable incidents involving the people around me, to the point where the only thing that I could believe in was film. And in those circumstances, when I turn to this film, the phrase which presented itself was “See you around, Yumika-san.” The thing that I can believe in now is that last scene. But with documentaries I think it’s fine if audiences don’t necessarily take the same thing from the film that you wanted to get across. I think it’s interesting when audiences get something different from what you wanted to convey.

Q: How does it feel to have this film screening at YIDFF this time around?

MT: The first thing I think of with regard to Yamagata is “I’m home.” It was Yamagata that taught me the pleasure and value of watching your films alongside an audience. There’s no other film festival where you can have the chance to directly experience how your films are being seen, hear people’s voices, and then afterwards have a drink with them. So that’s why when my films are being screened at YIDFF, the first and strongest feeling I have inside me is “I’m home.”

(Compiled by Hiroya Motoko)

Interviewer: Hiroya Motoko / Translator: Oliver Dew
Photography: Kato Takanobu, Hozumi Maki / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2009-09-17 / in Tokyo