YIDFF 2009 Films about Yamagata
We Are All Singing Together
An Interview with Kobayashi Kaori (Director)

Carrying on the Torch

Q: Why did you decide to make a documentary film?

KK: I had a chance to see a lot of work in the class of Professor Kato Itaru. One of them was the documentary, The Cheese & The Worms. Through this film, I found this genre, documentary. While I didn’t intend to narrow my field to documentary, after watching The Cheese & The Worms, I decided to try this genre as my next project.

Q: This film was made from the point of view of the chorus club that you belonged to in high school. What led you to focus on this?

KK: Since I was a student, it has been said that my school, which was only for girls, was going to accept some male students. There were a lot of demonstrations against co-education going on back then, but I stayed away from them and was just annoyed with the concept of co-education. What concerned me is that, I was in the chorus club and if the school went for co-education, we might not be able to maintain our tradition as a female chorus group. It stuck in my mind even after I graduated from high school and entered university.

It was when I started studying film at university and found the genre, documentary that I received a letter from our high school to its graduates. It was about the start of their co-education. I wanted to make a film about this issue and started approaching my high school. I thought of how to shoot the film and hit upon the idea of focusing on my chorus club to talk about the issue of co-education.

Q: We often heard the school song of your high school in the film. Was that your intention?

KK: I didn’t intend to do anything on the set. The members of our chorus club cherish our school song. When they get together, someone always starts singing that song. I was quite surprised that they even brought a radio-cassette recorder and played the school song when they were demonstrating against co-education.

Q: You had a camera staff. Were you nervous having others in charge of shooting?

KK: I thought about the people I worked with carefully and I had no concerns about my staff as I trusted them. I knew that they understood my intentions well. However, there were some scenes inside of my chorus club that no one could shoot but me. Under those circumstances, I went to shoot on my own.

Q: What is the most challenging thing when making a film?

KK: Editing. I’m so bad at cutting the footage I shot. I sometimes cried cutting them in the process of editing. But I didn’t want to make a self-pleasing film either, so I asked a lot of people to watch it while I was editing to make the film appealing and entertaining to everyone outside this filmmaking group and cast. I showed it to those I put my trust in, such as my friends and co-workers at my part-time job and also those with a critical eye to be more objective. I also decided to apply for the YIDFF to hear a lot more opinions on my film when I completed the film.

Q: What kind of films would you like to make in the future?

KK: I’m now determined to keep shooting documentary films. Actually, there is one person I want to shoot and I am now negotiating by sending letters to that individual. However, I’d also like to be flexible in terms of my approach. I hope to choose the right genre and method for a theme each time.

(Compiled by Ito Ayumi)

Interviewers: Ito Ayumi, Chida Hiroko / Translator: Okazaki Ikuna
Photography: Shikama Tomoaki / Video: Chida Hiroko / 2009-09-25 / in Yamagata