An Interview with Fumito Fujikawa, Director of The Light of Spring [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2022/Five Flavours Film Festival 2022]

The Light of Spring_director

With a background in both film and anthropology, Fumito Fujikawa’s career encompasses both documentary and drama and sometimes blurs the line between the two.

He first came to international attention with his debut feature film The Name of the Whale, a family drama shot in the director’s home prefecture of Hiroshima and centred on a junior high school boy searching for fossils while his family and friendship circle undergo changes. Critics noted its combination of documentary-like delivery of drama and the use of a partially non-professional cast and child actors and this earned it the moniker of a dramamentary, a style so effective at enraputring viewers in its world that it won the film the Audience Award at the 2015 Pia Film Festival. It went on to be screened internationally at festivals such as Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

His next film was Supa Layme, a documentary shot in the Peruvian Andes following a family of six tending to llamas, sheep and working the land. It went on to win awards including taking best film in the Peruvian competition of the Lima Alterna Festival (you can read an interview with the director about that film here).

For his third feature film, The Light of Spring, Fujikawa returned to Japan and shot a work in Tokyo with a real-life family of four acting out the separation of the parents and children during the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing directly from The Name of the Whale, he recruited two of that film’s actors, Yuki Hirabuki, nee Kimura, and her husband Masana Hirabuki. They brought their two children, five-year-old boy Shui and baby girl Chikasa. Together they convincingly relay a realistic story of a family falling apart, the quiet tensions and desperation between the parents affecting the children until a resolution of sorts is reached.

The Light of Spring played at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2022 in March and is currently playing at Five Flavours Film Festival in Poland where it can be viewed online in Poland (details here) until December 04th. At the festival, it won The Special Mention for the International People’s Jury award. To find out more on the background of the film, this interview was conducted with the director.

Thanks go out to Fumito Fujikawa for doing this interview and providing lots of background, to Takako Pocklington for translating between English and Japanese, and to the staff of Osaka Asian Film Festival staff for making the interview happen.

The Japanese-language interview is followed by the English.

The Light of Spring Film Poster

 


Japanese

この映画を作って下さってありがとうございます。初めて監督の作品について知ったのは、劇映画である「いさなとり」の封切り情報を見た時です。劇映画だけでなく、「スーパ・ライメ」のようなドキュメンタリーも撮られてるということも存じ上げています。「ひかりのどけき」は、ドキュメンタリー的な現実描写と物語の面が兼ね備えられた作品です。

映画製作者として監督ご自身が大切にされてることは何ですか?また影響を受けた人物は?

まず、この映画に興味をもってくださり誠にありがとうございます。大変光栄です。

そして、いきなり難しい質問ですね。

私自身がいつも気を付けたいと思っていることは、制作にかかわる人たちから何かを搾取したり、傷つけたりしない、ということなのですが、しかしこの目標を達成できているかと言えば答えはノーだと思います。どれだけ小規模でも、どれだけ気を付けても、「監督」という立場には常に権力が付きまといます。なのでなるべく「監督」という立場にはいたくないと思っています。

影響を受けた人物ですが、映画監督はたくさんいます。例えばジョン・フォードの映画は大好きです。ただ、映画界以外の人からの影響もあります。例えばマルティン・チャンビ(Martin Chambiというペルーの写真家、平敷兼七という沖縄の写真家の写真に多大な影響を受けています。

「ひかりのどけき」のアイデアはどんなところからうまれたのでしょうか?

この映画は、慶應義塾大学のアート・センターが主催する「都市のカルチュラル・ナラティヴ」 “Cultural narrative of a City”というプロジェクトのもと制作されました。本来なら東京の港区にある文化施設に密着しドキュメンタリーを撮る企画なのですが、一昨年はcovid-19の影響でなかなか密着して長期に渡り撮影することが難しかったので、知り合いだった役者さんご家族に協力いただきフィクションを撮影することにしました。ベースになったのは、実際に僕が自粛期間中に狭いアパートで家族ぎゅうぎゅう詰めで生活していた時に妻との間で起こった不和がきっかけとなっています。その時、娘が1歳だったのですが、改めて家族について考える機会となりました。血のつながりや、夫婦と他者性についてなどその時感じたことをベースにこの映画を作ろうと思いました。

平吹正名さんとは以前もお仕事一緒にされていますね?どんなきっかけで出逢われたのでしょうか?また、平吹さんとそのご家族を、映画の核にもってこられたのはどうしてですか?

平吹さんには2015年の「いさなとり」という映画に出演いただきました。実は、同じく役者でもあるパートナーのきむらゆきさん(平吹有希さん)の方が昔からの知り合いで、「いさなとり」の出演をお願いした際に役者さんとご結婚されたと聞き、その方にもぜひ出演してほしいということで平吹さんにも「いさなとり」に出演していただくことになりました。その後平吹家とは仲良くさせてもらっており、「スーパ・ライメ」撮影のためペルーに渡る2016年に長男の朱唯くんが生まれた際も病院までお祝いに駆けつけていました。

平吹家を核にしたのは、やはり私がこの家族と仲良くさせてもらっていたからだと思います。先ほども話したように、なかなか大々的に撮影できない状況で、どうやって撮影しようかと考えた時に、家族の話なら室内でも撮ることができると考えました。

もちろん外での撮影もありましたが、極力少なく済むように心掛けました。もちろん社会状況の問題だけでなく、資金的にも潤沢にあったわけではなかったので、そういったことも関係していますが。

出演者の皆さん、素晴らしい演技をされています。平吹有希(旧姓木村)さんについてお伺いしたいのですが、俳優業を本業とされている方ですか?

きむらさんは俳優業をされています。映画だけでなくCMに出演されたりもしています。私が学生の頃に友人の卒業制作の映画に出演いただいたのがきっかけで知り合いました。その後、私の映画にも出演していただくようになりました。とても素晴らしい俳優さんだと思っています。

The Light of Spring Film Image 4

監督はこの映画を(文字に書き記された)テキストに頼らずに作ろうと、試みられたんですよね。(どうしてそうしようとされたのか)そのことについてもう少し詳しくお話し願えますか?大体の筋書きは用意されていたのか或いは即興で作り上げられたのでしょうか?

テキストに頼りたくなかったのは、「スーパ・ライメ」を撮影したペルーのアンデス高地での体験によるものです。そこでは、20代から30代の女性の大半は、スペイン語の読み書きができませんでした(もちろん男性にもいました)。女性の方が多かったのは、女性は家にいるものだという家父長制のようなものが根強いからです。最近は義務教育になり、全ての子供を学校に通わせないといけないのですが、それでも経済的な理由や、先ほどの家父長制により未だに学校に通えない子供もいました。私が居候していたスーパ・ライメ一家のお母さんも、年は私より若い30歳くらいでしたが、小学校3年生くらいまでしか通えなかったのでスペイン語の読み書きが上手ではありませんでした。スペイン語ができないと町で働くことができません。なので彼ら彼女らは仲買人から搾取され続ける牧畜を続けざるを得ない状況がありました。その様を目の当たりにし、テキストの権力性について考えるようになりました。それと同時に、朱唯くんは撮影時4歳でしたが、ひらがなとカタカナの読み書きが少しできるくらいでした。なので今回はテキストを使わずに撮影してみようと思いました。

しかし、全編にわたって即興で作られているわけではありません。ほとんどのシーンは事前にどういったシーンを撮るか、そこでどんな会話があるか、大まかには話し合っています。もちろんその通りに進んだわけではありませんが、しかし事前に話し合っているので即興ではないかな、と個人的には思っています。ストーリーは、最初のシーン以外はほとんど決まっていませんでした。なのでこの映画がどうなっていくのかは僕自身も分かりませんでした。平吹家のみなさんと話ながら方向が決まっていったように記憶しています。

各シーンの演出はどの程度されたのでしょうか?また、全てワンテイクで撮られたのか、それとも一つのカットに数テイク撮られたのでしょうか?

シーンによるのですが、数テイク重ねたシーンもあります。例えば、平吹さんと朱唯くんが博物から帰ってくると家ががらんとしている。朱唯くんが手持無沙汰に平吹さんに「かーちんどこ行ったの?」と聞くシーンがあるのですが、そこは2テイク目を使っています。1テイク目は朱唯くんのテンションがあがりすぎて大はしゃぎしてしまったので、クールダウンしてからもう一度撮りました。このようにテイクを重ねるシーンもありましたが、ほとんどは1テイクで撮っています。基本的に朱唯くんは役者ではないので、テイクを重ねる意味も分かりませんし、それを押し付けたくもありませんでした。しかし、先ほどのシーンのようにもう一度撮り直したい時などは、平吹さんも一緒に説得してくれ、しぶしぶ付き合ってくれました。

平吹朱唯くんとその妹の元彩ちゃんの姿を観ているだけで顔がほころびました。あのお二人との撮影はどんな感じだったのでしょうか?

元彩ちゃんは歩き始めたばかりで、僕も見ているだけで顔がほころんでいました。彼女はそのままを撮れれば大丈夫だと思っていました。朱唯くんには、辛い思いをさせてしまうと感じていました。クランクインは年末年始の三日間で、その期間はきむらさんと元彩ちゃんにはきむらさんのご実家に帰っていただいて、平吹さん朱唯くん、それと僕の三人で撮影したからです。それも、事前に映画の撮影をする、それでお母さんが少しだけいなくなる、ということは伝えて、了承を得ていたのですが、家に帰ると急にお母さんはいない、それからあれよあれよと撮影が始まっていくという状況で、相当負担をかけてしまうと思っていたからです。それに両親が離れてしまうというのは子どもにとっては計り知れないくらい怖いことです。いくら映画の話だと言っても、平吹さんが言うセリフの影響力は大きく、現実とフィクションの境目も曖昧になっているような感じを受けました。なので常にきむらさんとは連絡を取り合い、もし朱唯くんの精神状態が危ないと感じたらすぐにきむらさんには帰ってきてもらうようお願いしていました。なんとか三日間の撮影を終えることができ、その後は1週間や2週間に一度撮影させてもらう、というペースで4月まで撮影は続きました。

朱唯くんの頑張り抜きにはこの映画は撮れませんでした。

このインタビューをお受けして下さり、ありがとうございます!

こちらこそありがとうございます。大変光栄です。願わくば一人でも多くの方にこの映画を見ていただけるよう、今後も尽力いたします。

 


The Light of Spring Film Image 5

English

Thank you for making the film. I first came across your work when seeing information on your narrative feature The Name of the Whale upon its release. As well as dramas, I have read that you make documentaries like Supa Layme. The Light of Spring manages to combine a documentary realism and a narrative of sorts.

What is your ethos as a filmmaker and who are your inspirations?

First of all, thank you for showing your interest in the film. I am honoured to have this opportunity.

That is a difficult question to answer from the start.

What I always bear in mind is not to exploit or hurt those who work in filmmaking with me. However, if I asked myself whether I have managed to carry it out, I would say no. It always comes with the authority of being a “director”, whatever the projects are or however much I am careful about it. So I would rather not be a “director” if I could.

As for the person who has inspired me – there are several people among film directors. For instance, I like John Ford’s films very much. I have been inspired by people outside the film industry as well, such as Peruvian photographer Martín Chambi and Japanese photographer Kenshichi Heshiki, who is from Okinawa. I was influenced hugely by them.

Where did the idea for THE LIGHT OF SPRING come from?

The film was made under a project called “Cultural Narrative of a City” organised by Keio University Art Centre. The project was supposed to be a documentary film shot within a culture centre in Minato-ward, Tokyo. However, it was tricky to do filming in a confined place over a long period during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore I asked an actor I am familiar with and his family to cooperate with the project and filmed them.

The story is based on my personal experience. The relationship between my wife and I had deteriorated during the stay-home period while we were living squashed together in a small apartment. Our daughter was one year old at that time. It gave me a chance to think about family. I thought about things like bonds, the relationship between a married couple and otherness, then decided to put these thoughts together and make it into a film.

You have worked with Masana Hirabuki before. How did you first meet and why make him and his family the centre of the film?

I had Mr Hirabuki play in the 2015 film The Name of the Whale. Actually, I had known his partner Yuki Kimura (Mrs Hirabuki) before I met him. I heard that she married an actor when I asked her to play in the film and wanted the actor to be in it as well, then Mr Hirabuki played in it. I’ve been close to them since then. I even went to see their newborn baby, their first son Shui at the hospital in 2016, which was the year I went to Peru to shoot Supa Layme.

The family has been close to me. I think that was the reason for making them the centre of the film. As I mentioned earlier, in the challenging circumstance of filming, I thought it would be possible to shoot indoors if it was a story about a family.

Of course, we shot outdoors as well, but I tried to do it as little as possible. It didn’t relate to not only the social circumstances but also the financial reason that I made the film in this way.

All of the cast give great performances. I wanted to ask about Yuki Hirabuki (nee Kimura). Is she a professional actor?

Yuki Kimura is a professional actor. She has appeared in not only films but also commercials. When I was a student, I met her through when she was in my friend’s graduation project film. She has played in my films since then. She is a great actor.

You tried to make the film without relying upon written text. Can you explain more about this? Was there an outline written down or was it improvisation?

Why I wanted to make this film without relying upon written text relates to my experience of staying in the highlands in the Andes in Peru to shoot the film Supa Layme. Most women I met there, who were in their 20s to 30s, had trouble reading or writing in Spanish (There are also some illiterate men). Illiteracy was seen more in women than men since patriarchal ideas still perpetuated the notion that women should stay home to do housework. Education has become compulsory recently, so parents should make children go to school. Despite that, I saw some children who are not able to attend school due to their families’ financial situation or patriarchal ideas. The young thirty-something mother of the Supa Layme family, whom I stayed with, had trouble reading and writing in Spanish. She only managed to go to school till approximately her third year at primary school. If they were unable to speak Spanish, they wouldn’t  be able to get a job in town. They had no choice other than farming and thus have been exploited by broker-dealers. While I observed these situations, I started thinking about the supremacy/power of (written) text. For another reason, Shui was four years old when the shooting started. He was only able to read hiragana and katakana, therefore I decided to make it without text.

However, it is not all improvisation. I explained to the cast roughly what sort of scene we would shoot or conversations would be made there. Of course, things didn’t always go as planned though. So I can’t say it was improvisation entirely because we discussed what to do in advance. I only planned the first scene and hardly decided what to do after that. I didn’t even know where the story was heading to myself. I remembered that the directions of the story were made whilst discussing with the Hirabuki family.

The Light of Spring Film Image 1

How much direction did you give to the scenes and did you only use one take or work on multiple takes?

It depends on each scene, but some scenes had several takes. For example, there is the scene where (Masana) Hirabuki and Shui return back home and find out the house is empty. Shui, who does not know what to do, asks his dad (Masana Hirabuki) where his mum has gone. I used the second take for that scene. Shui was too excited to perform for the first shot, so I reshot it after he calmed down. There were scenes with several takes, but I shot most of them in one take. Shui is not an actor and didn’t understand why we tried shooting multiple times for each scene, so I didn’t want to force him to do it. But still, when I needed to retake scenes like the one previously mentioned, Hirabuki explained to Shui, he agreed reluctantly.

Shui Hirabuki and his sister Chikasa are a delight to watch. What was it like working with them?

Chikasa had just started walking at that time. Just watching them made me smile as well. I thought there was no problem with filming her just the way she was. However, I was concerned I would give Shui a tough time. I started shooting for three days over new year’s eve and new year’s day. I asked Yuki Kimura and Chikasa to go to her parent’s house, so the shooting was done by the three of us; Hirabuki, Shui and me. I explained to him in advance that we were going to shoot a film and his mother was away for a while. He agreed to it. Even after explaining to him, I thought it caused him massive distress that there was no presence of his mother in the house and that the shooting started when he was not really sure what was happening. It could be an immense fear for children that their parents separate. The impact of the lines Hirabuki uttered was strong even though they were in a fictional story in a film. Shui looked confused between reality and fiction. Therefore I regularly contacted his mother (Kimura) and asked her to come home immediately if I recognised any signs that he was on the verge of losing his mental stability. We managed to finish the three days of shooting, and after that, I continued shooting at a pace of once a week or two till April.

This film couldn’t have been made without Shui’s tremendous effort.

Thank you for taking the time to look at these questions!

Thank you to you, too. I am so grateful.

I would like as many people as possible to watch this film. I will try hard working on it.


The Light of Spring is currently playing online at Five Flavours Film Festival in Poland until December 04.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.