An Interview with Su Qing, Mina (Directors)
Inner Worlds Expressed by Sound “To Our Beloved Children”
Q: This film makes you feel the visual beauty of the images, makes you focus instinctively on the emerging sounds. I got the impression that you were quite particular about sound while filming, but was that the case?
Mina (M): We were quite particular about sound design, so we had specialized staff oversee that part of production. Specifically, “a quiet beauty,” a beauty in soundlessness. It’s difficult to do in a documentary, but we wanted the sound, which emerges from a soundless space, to express the children’s inner worlds and emotions. In the scene where the little boy dies, the sound of the rustling trees and the cries of the birds express that exactly.
Q: In the film, Caro Mio Ben makes an appearance three times, but how did you feel listening to her in person? Also, why did you choose a song title as your film title?
M: When I heard her sing about this fully fledged love, I was really taken aback by the emotional richness of her expressive faculties, and her ability to move her audience. She flew so far from reality, after all. And then, the theme of this song is “eternal love.” Love is something shared among everyone. I wanted the audience to feel that from the very title.
Su Qing (SQ): I’ve loved the song Caro Mio Ben from the very beginning. When I first heard her, I was deeply moved, and I felt that with her, it could be even better, so I told her as much myself. The second time, her mood had changed, and she wanted to have the film’s audience, as well as those of us working on the film, listen to her song. The third time, we were recording in the studio, but you’ve probably guessed that the third time was different, too. There were no doubts about the title either. When I heard her sing, I instinctively thought that this had to be the title. Our producer included, we unanimously chose this title. The “Dear Beloved” in Caro Mio Ben (My Dear Beloved) are the children. We also wanted this title because we felt very close to them.
Q: What kind of distances and relationships did you keep with them during filming? Also, why did you spotlight the three girls?
SQ: We started with first asking their names, and then having one conversation after another. It’s the same as when we try to make friends. We weren’t able to develop a close bond for about two years. When we starting to get closer, we heard about their backgrounds as well. By the time we got to editing, we had narrowed it down to 5 or 6 children, but ultimately, we ended up focusing on those 3 girls.
Q: What kind of process do you have for completing a film? Also, because you are co-directors, do you have a role for one another?
SQ: I mostly take care of the filming. I think my strength lies in my ability to discover things, and I am good at getting into people’s emotional worlds, their inner workings. By reflecting these inner workings onscreen, you generate a cinematic rhythm. Then I get ideas from Mina, and we put our heads together for things like structure.
M: It’s crucial that we discuss where and how we bring out our individual strengths. We have different personalities, and there are times when our views are at cross purposes. The trust that we have in each other is what allows to go forward from there. Our process is not some well-oiled machine, but I think it’s more than being the sum of our parts. If it were, we might as well just do things on our own. I think it’s precisely because there are two of us that we can make something better.
(Compiled by Tadera Saeko)
Interviewers: Tadera Saeko, Oki Kayako / Interpreter: Higuchi Yuko / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Kusunose Kaori / Video: Nakane Wakae / 2017-10-08