Home > News > HogaHolic × JAPANESE EYES, Roundtable: Tetsuaki Matsue of “Live Tape” x Natsuki Seta of “A Liar and a Broken Girl” x Koji Fukada of “hospitalité”
News Index back previous next
[Special Contents]
HogaHolic × JAPANESE EYES, Roundtable: Tetsuaki Matsue of “Live Tape” x Natsuki Seta of “A Liar and a Broken Girl” x Koji Fukada of “hospitalité”

HogaHolic × JAPANESE EYES is featured extensively on HogaHolic website (Japanese site).

The Japanese Eyes section had a change of direction in 2009, which may be viewed as “independent films declaration.” This was symbolized by the news that Tetsuaki Matsue’s “Live Tape” won the Best Picture in Japanese Eyes. Hence, a talk has been arranged with Tetsuaki Matsue, and two new comers to the TIFF, Natsuki Seta and Koji Fukada. The three have not met before, but they are from the same generation in their early 30s, being in the same era and breathing the same air. What are the real opinions of these young directors? Frank discussions were held about the value of a film festival to them and their passion for filmmaking.
©2010 HogaHolic

Tetsuaki Matsue:Profile
Born in Tokyo in 1977. His graduation work from Japan Academy of Moving Images, “Annyong Kimchee,” won various awards including the Special Mention in the New Asian Currents Awards at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Special award at NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) and Bunka-cho Film Awards in 2000. Since then he has released exciting films one after another, including the “Honto ni atta noroi no video” series, “Every Japanese Woman Makes Curry Rice”, “Seki-Lala”, “THE Virgin wildsides” a.k.a. “Dotei wo Produce” and “Annyong Yumika.” His “Live Tape,” which was filmed on January 1, 2009, won the Best Picture in the Japanese Eyes section at TIFF 2009. (The film is currently doing the rounds at film festivals around the world, such as in Germany, NY, Toronto, and Paris.) He published, “Self Documentary,” which summarizes his life in the last 10 years.

Natsuki Seta
Profile & Message

Koji Fukada
Profile & Message

Young directors’ thoughts on film entry for festivals.

---Since you are all film makers from the same generation, I would like you to exchange opinions on various matters. If I include films that you made while at school, all of you have experience in independent films and film festivals. What is the significance of films festivals to you?

Matsue: To me, film festivals “add value to films.” Japanese films from the end of 1980s to early 1990s are often referred to as a stagnant period. On the other hand it was when Takeshi Kitano came to the scene and Kiyoshi Kurosawa began releasing a series of V cinemas (films aimed specifically at video market without theatre release), and there was a trend where edgy films were “recognized abroad which then led to a theatrical release.” That is how I started to watch independent films, and it really impressed me. Takashi Ishii’s “Shinde mo ii,” for example, was absolutely mind blowing. I could not believe someone was making such an interesting film. It was like the fog had lifted, film festivals made me realize there is always a film that is worthwhile.
©2010 HogaHolic

Fukada: Following on from what Matsue has just said, I am certainly conscious of some sort of a brand value of film festivals. I have always been independent, and my films do not have any known actors nor directed by a famous director (laughter). If I don’t do anything, no one will be interested in my film and it won’t see the light of the day. I would like to gain a foothold through film festivals to develop my next film, so film festivals are significant to me.
©2010 HogaHolic

Matue:Independent filmmakers are especially conscious of that. Since I became a film maker and joined the side to enter films, I have been very conscious of film festivals. The film festival I participated in for the first time was KOPAN YF 10 years ago with my debut work, “Annyong Kimchee.” I was still at Japan Academy of Moving Images at that time, and I was aiming for a theatrical debut, so I was conscious somewhere in my mind to gain a foothold through film festivals. It was my understanding at that time, and also in the Japanese film industry, I believe, that it is difficult for independent films to have theatrical debut without adding some value. Nowadays I think even student films can have a theatrical debut if the quality is high.

Fukada: There is one more thing I have been sensing lately. I have been invited to and participated in various film festivals overseas for the last few years, and I can feel for real that film making is moving with film festivals as its starting point. The competitiveness of the country in the world film market is almost decided at film festivals. Including myself, I would like the Japanese film industry to pay more attention to this.

Seta:I am not as experienced in film festivals as you two, and I haven’t got a clear idea yet about their significance to me. However, I think, films which are shown at theatres have various information released in advance, and people who feel interested go to theatres to watch them. At film festivals, on the other hand, people tend to watch films without so much advance knowledge. “A Liar and a Broken Girl,” for example, has just been completed last month, and the visitors to the TIFF will be its first audience. I think it is only possible at film festivals for films to be watched in such circumstances, and such opportunities are important for filmmakers, as well as for the films.
©2010 HogaHolic

---What have been your views for the TIFF?

Matsue: I was a keen regular when I was at high school. I was one of those people who looked forward to TIFF every year. TIFF’s significance grew even more in 2006 when I became one of the jury members for “Winds of Asia-Middle East.” I was making adult videos at the time, and these videos were recognized and Sozo Teruoka, the then programming director of the Competition section asked me to join. I have complete trust in Mr. Yatabe (the current programming director of the Competition section) and other members of the staff of the TIFF. It may be so in everything, but what matters essentially in film festivals is the “people.” TIFF is big and influential, so it also attracts vilifications and criticism. When my “Live Tape” was selected for the Japanese Eyes section, some people asked me why I entered my films in the TIFF.

---It implies that, being an independent filmmaker, you should refuse it being anti-establishment, doesn’t it?

Matue:Yes. But someone I trust recognized the film, so to me, it was only natural to enter the film. I was genuinely pleased.

---Ms. Seta and Mr. Fukada, this is your first time to participate in TIFF. Have you had any particular feeling about TIFF?

Seta: I have been a regular visitor for the last few years. I thought it was “money well spent” for being able to watch films which may not be shown anywhere else, with the added bonus of Q&A Sessions, etc., and I enjoyed it. But I was not an enthusiastic fan. So I am really surprised. When “A Liar and a Broken Girl” was still being made, there was someone I did not know. It remained a mystery until a moment ago – it was Mr. Yatabe. (Note: Mr. Yatabe, the programming director came for greetings just before the talk.) Looking back, he must have been aware of my work for some time. I am really surprised.

Fukada: Same for me. Whatever is said, TIFF is the largest film festival in Japan, and I did not think they would pay any attention to someone nameless like me, so I was surprised. To be honest, I did not come to TIFF that much. Buying tickets looked complicated, and also I thought that I would be able to watch TIFF films at art houses later on. However, I am bracing myself for participating on the side of the filmmakers. I am not flustered so much at film festivals outside Japan because I don’t understand whatever they say, but this one is in Japan, and I cannot escape, or I cannot make excuses. This is the biggest ever platform for me to release my film, and assessments and feedback will be bounced back to me. I am feeling quite a lot of pressure.

Seta: I am anxious about it, too. Also, my friends and relatives have been jeering me since the selection, asking me when it will be shown at Roppongi Hills or whether I am going to walk on the Green Carpet.

Matsue: I had a lot of that, too, last year. “Matsue is going to walk on the Green Carpet.” (laugh)

Seta: I am nervous already (laugh).

Fukada: It may sound odd, but some people say it’s more amazing than a theatrical debut because there are some people who will pay attention to a film because it has been shown at the TIFF.

Three different views of films, and the ideal film making

---I would like to ask about the two films which have been selected for the Japanese Eyes section. Which one shall I start with?

Fukada: I am scared of other people’s views (laugh). Please start with mine because I want to get it done and over with.

---Let’s start with Mr. Fukada’s “hospitalité.” If you don’t mind me telling you what I felt first, I sensed it has very classical atmosphere of Japanese films. It reminded me of films like Yasujiro Ozu’s.

Fukada: Well, I am influenced by Japanese films before the 1960s. I divide the era before and after Yasuzo Masumura. I looked at Mikio Naruse, rather than Ozu in this film.

---What made you conscious of it in making the film?

Fukada: Recent films seem to emphasize the emotional interaction between people, but I wondered if I can have a story just with the circumstances and the air at the time. Naruse scooped up Japanese communications well and constructed a story with it. That is why I was conscious of him.

Matue: Now I understand. I felt characters were not moving, but the setting was pursuing the characters. There were many things which bothered me, for example, why the wife is so young and pretty? But the story went ahead regardless, which was interesting to me, and I felt the challenge the film was making.

Seta: I felt the film was poised and attention was paid to details, unlike my film. There were also some fun scenes, hard to describe, like gags, for example, there was a cut suddenly where a naked woman was looking through the window, and there was a parakeet called Pi-chan. I got hooked with these. There were some long takes when it counted, which made me reflect on myself, wanting to be able to shoot as solidly as he.

---Mr. Fukada, I believe you value the atmosphere and circumstances rather than emotions that are created in human interaction. What is the reason for this?

Fukada: I value the impressions at the time the film is delivered. I would like to make films that will be slowly reflected upon a few days after the viewing, rather than the enjoyment there and then. In this regard, I feel human emotions are only for that particular time, but the experience through the relationship can remain in the memory. That is why I place emphasis to show the relationship of the characters rather than their emotions.

---Shall we talk about Ms. Seta’s “A Liar and a Broken Girl”?

Matsue: When I saw Ms. Seta’s short film, I felt straight away that she can make commercial films. My impression, having watched this film, is that she really aimed high by making a debut with such a grand feature film

Seta: It was really high.

Matsue: It is really difficult to show a story which contained such cruelty with a pop and rom-com touch like this. To be honest, I have not digested it fully even now. In fact, I am not good at this kind of story, regardless of Ms. Seta’s direction. Just like the film, I had a dream of being kidnapped. I haven’t had such a scary dream for a long time.

Fukada: That means the film has had significant impact on you in a way.

Matsue: Indeed. It is deeply stuck in my mind that is why I cannot really assess it with a clear mind.

Seta: Well, to be honest, I was not sure how to tackle this topic when I was asked about this story. As Mr. Matsue pointed it out, I struggled to see what distance I should keep for the story to work. It was extremely difficult to balance the weight of the past and the lightness of now. I wanted to make it as a love story between the two protagonists in the end, and made this film based on this belief. I made the last scene in that form to include one of my messages there.

Fukada: It is based on a ‘light novel’ but novels of that type sometimes have hard-to-take issues despite the pretence of a rom-com on the surface. Having watched Ms. Seta’s film, I felt it was extremely hard to adapt it to a film. At the same time, I thought the contemporary generation may be able to settle in to something like this, considering it is post-“Evangelion.” Also, I love Ms. Seta’s direction, or the almost choreographed movements. The rhythm makes me feel good. I kept wondering how this was done. I don’t have such a sense at all so I am envious.

Seta: I told them what movements I wanted in detail. I am always asking actors, for example, to jump a little bit, though it was not like that in the past. It is still trial and error at the moment.

Fukada: You used wires.

Seta: I did everything in this film which was difficult in student films, like hanging and flying in the air.

---I wonder what kind of responses would Ms. Seta’s film and Mr. Fukada’s receive when they are screened at the TIFF.

Matsue: All sorts of opinions are expressed at film festivals. It’s scary.

Seta: It is really scary.

Fukada: It’s half expectant and half scared for me.

---You will be leading the Japanese film industry in the future. Would you mind telling me about the film making you are aiming for at the end?

Matsue: I think films are live experiences, and experiences remain in your body. So I think hard how viewers can participate in my film and experience it. I want to make films which do not betray that. I should not betray expectation of the people who paid to watch my film. My theme may be how to make viewers’ experience richer.

Fukada: I am sceptical about current trend in Japanese films, which construct stories by getting the characters to tell their feelings and circumstances in detail. Films can work without the characters saying or doing funny things, and I want to make films like that. In addition, I want to be brave and show my perspective of how I am viewing the world. Considering the necessity of films, I believe films provide opportunities for both audience and the filmmakers to know that there are different sets of values than your own. It may be getting blown out of proportion, but it means to be aware of the diversity, and even more, this may help creating a new type of democracy. That is why I intend to be always aware of my view of the world.

Seta: I believe films have power to show you the world which you have not even imagined, to broaden your thinking, and to introduce the world you did not know about. After viewing a film, you may walk differently, or the scenes around may look different, I want to make films like that. Mr. Matsue’s “Live Tape” was just like that to me.

Matsue: Thank you very much.

(Interviewed and written by Kenji Minakami)

HogaHolic × JAPANESE EYES(Japanese site)

previous next
KEIRIN.JPThe 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
22nd Tokyo International Film Festival(2009)