YIDFF 2009 New Docs Japan
Fat Chance
An Interview with Sekiguchi Yuka (Director)

Challenging Yourself

Q: You are the subject of this film, Ms. Sekiguchi. Can you tell me how you shot it?

SY: First off, a confidential relationship with the cameraman was essential. I was not able to stand by the camera since I was on it as a shooting object. However, I didn’t want him to shoot the way he wanted since I was the director. So, I looked for a cameraman who understood what I wanted to do and whom I could put trust in, though it was pretty difficult. When I finally found one, I asked him two things. One is never stop shooting even when I looked like I didn’t want to be shot. The other is not to do a close up on me in emotional scenes. Those were my direction to the cameraman. As long as he followed them, anything else was OK. I met thirty people, and he was the 28th candidate. He didn’t know Japanese, but he managed to shoot using his own sense and also kept a certain distance from the conversation between my mother and me at her home. He understood my direction well.

Q: That scene was very touching.

SY: My mother never told me that she wanted me back, so I hadn’t expected that the situation was going to be like that with the cameraman and gaffer around us. She is such a smart person, so she kind of realized what she was supposed to say in front of the camera. Why she revealed what she had kept to herself was probably because she was subconsciously aware of the camera. A camera helps people be true to themselves or change situations. That’s an interesting thing about a camera.

Q: Why did you depict this issue, diet, in a comical way?

SY: Ang Lee, a film director, told me that I have a sense of comedy. Documentary covers a variety of themes, such as injustice in society and ordinary life. I thought expressing something through a sense of comedy would give quite an impact. While I was thinking about the next theme of my project, I found myself overeating pizzas because of my unhappy marriage. It’s not comfortable for me to laugh at others, so I decided to go for self-mockery. I was aware of making a comedy/documentary from the very first.

Q: As the story goes towards the end, the film is getting focused on your mentality. Was that against your intention?

SY: Well. You know just looking at a diet is not so intriguing. Before I started shooting, I got interested in why you eat too much, not what you eat. That’s one reason why I did a counseling to deal with the theme, but I had no idea what was going to come out of it. It’s quite tough to reveal yourself in public, but I feel it helps make the film more engaging. When making films, it is important that you push yourself to somewhere you don’t want to go or try something which scares you off. You should try to overcome some obstacles to get better as a film director. Among a lot of filmmakers, you need to make something different from others when speaking out for yourself. You or others may be damaged by making films, but you should still challenge yourself to explore a new territory. That’s what makes a good filmmaker.

(Compiled by Ichiyanagi Sayuri)

Interviewers: Ichiyanagi Sayuri, Hozumi Maki / Translator: Okazaki Ikuna
Photography: Kato Takanobu, Hozumi Maki / Video: Kato Takanobu, Hozumi Maki / 2009-10-02 / in Yokohama