YIDFF 2017 New Asian Currents presents
Roxlee’s Yakata (Exhibition), Roxlee Special
An Interview with Roxlee (Director)

A Light and Free Mash-Up of Moves

Q: In “Roxlee’s Yakata,” many of your variegated works—everything from drawings and illustrations to animation—are on display, overwhelming their viewers. From the original manga that you had drawn in The Daily Bulletin, to the illustrative works that you had personally given to the Yamagata Film Festival staff, one can feel the relationship of trust and accumulation of time between you and the Yamagata Film Festival, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

R: Most of the pieces on exhibit here are from 1989 onwards, and I am delighted to see that my original works on Yamagata have been preserved so carefully. In the Philippines, they’ve been washed out by water, among other things. Even now, I still enjoy working with the people at the Yamagata Film Festival.

Q: The exhibit is a space where works of various techniques are blended together, and I think that multi-faceted quality is one of your charms as a director. Do you get a different feeling depending on the method of expression you use?

R: In expressing myself through mixed media, I mix together and make use of things like ball pens and oil paints. With a ball pen, I can draw out quick movements, like those of a rock and roll guitar, while with oil paints or acrylic, I can paint more slowly, and pay attention to my use of color. Between pictures and films, I think it is films that give a sense of completeness. I shoot films, but I can also bring in painting, drawing, and sound, and then screen them. It’s a lot of fun because I can mix various moves together. In my new film, Slicing Art, which was screened here at the “Roxlee Special,” there is an illustrated scene that looks like a picture story show, and I made that by filming things that I had drawn very quickly with a ball pen. I feel that the delight in drawing pictures is stronger now than it was during my childhood. When I was a child, my parents forced me draw wholesome things, so the degree of freedom is greater now. But I think that even when it comes to drawing indecent things, it will be fine so long as your sense is good.

Q: In your new films, Yours Trolley and Manila Scream, the figures of children were very striking. Even amidst serious environmental pollution, or impoverished life in the barracks, the children’s eyes were shining. Did you have some connection with these children beforehand?

R: I first met them when I began making these films. We went into the poor districts, and while we were talking with the children’s parents, we gradually befriended them. Eventually, we got the parents’ permission, and started filming. I love children. When I film children from the poor districts, I cannot avoid showing their poverty, but I do not want to present them as sad. They have three meals a day, go to school, and lead their own lives. I wanted to show their happier times. In Yours Trolley, I also show the resolution of the adults, who work very hard for the children’s sake.

Q: In Yours Trolley, there is a scene where you push the trolley yourself while playing the harmonica. What kind of ideas did you have in mind for this scene?

R: This film already shows poverty and suffering laborers, so I wanted to make it lighter. I wanted to use music, and turn it into a film with a fun atmosphere. In Philippine television documentaries, whenever they show the poor onscreen, they often use scenes where the people are shedding tears, or they are speaking or acting in ways that invite pity. But I didn’t want to show them like that. I wanted to present an optimistic image. I wanted us to give them a push forward through film, to tell them, “You can do it!”

(Compiled by Oki Kayako)

Interviewers: Oki Kayako, Masuya Shoko / Interpreter: Fujioka Asako / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Abe Shizuka / Video: Tadera Saeko / 2017-10-08