YIDFF 2009 New Docs Japan
Path of Anna—Yesterday Today Tomorrow 2
An Interview with Naoi Riyo (Director)

Invisible Changes I’d Like to See

Q: This is a sequel to Yesterday Today Tomorrow. What made you decide to film a sequel?

NR: Advice from Sato Makoto, who watched the previous film. “Shoot more of Anna and Pom,” he told me. I felt I didn’t do them proper justice in the first film, so I wanted to focus on them more. When I proposed putting Pom in a sequel he said “Stay at my house this time. That way you can shoot our lives from morning to night and see a different side of things.” That’s when I realized what was lacking in the original film.

Q: Were there any changes in Anna and Pom compared to the first film?

NR: In coming to understand what a documentary is they went to bat for me, making things easier in that respect. On the other hand, Pom and Anna started to “perform.” The first thing I shot was the egg-selling footage. When I woke up that morning they were all set in their matching jean jackets, ready to go. And while there were lots of silences in the first film, they made a point of talking this time. Although things got off to an unnatural start, once shooting progressed they began to loosen up.

Q: While depicting their daily lives in a respectful manner, as you did in the first film, Pom suddenly left town.

NR: I was already set to wrap up filming and was editing in Bangkok when Anna contacted me and said Pom had left the house and was in southern Thailand. I knew that if Anna and I went down there together and filmed it that it’d be quite dramatic. But his family in the south didn’t know he was infected with HIV so I thought it might cause problems if I brought a camera down there. After wondering what to do, I decided not to go in the end. Documentaries are structured around human relationships, so if those relationships are damaged I think the films lose meaning. I guess I believe if there’s even a 1% chance that I might hurt someone, I don’t shoot.

Q: Time seems to go by very leisurely in the film.

NR: I like to focus on the same places again and again. For example, no matter how many times you go back to a house, nothing really changes. But you can see differences in yourself. And the closer you look at a place that doesn’t seem to change, the more you see changes that weren’t evident before. That’s why small changes are more interesting.

Q: Please tell us about your next film.

NR: I’m currently shooting at a Burmese refugee camp. I’m filming a boy as he grows into adolescence. He’s like the reincarnation of the son Boy in Yesterday Today Tomorrow. It’s a tiny camp with nothing, but because nothing happens it allows me to capture what appears naturally and trace shifts within myself. Through documentary film I will continue exploring what life is about. It’s something I shouldn’t waver from.

(Compiled by Murakami Yumiko)

Interviewers: Murakami Yumiko, Shiba Katsuhiro / Translator: Jason Gray
Photography: Shiba Katsuhiro / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2009-09-28 / in Tokyo