Latest documentary "Oyster Factory" has been officially invited to Locarno International Film Festival 2015! 最新作『牡蠣工場』がロカルノ国際映画祭へ正式招待されました!

Friday, September 28, 2007



On Sunday, September 30th, I and Yama-san will appear at Uplink in Shibuya, Tokyo. It's a double feature event with FRAGMENT, a documentary by Makoto Sasaki. The theater opens at 13:00 and the films start at 13:30. After the films, we'll have a Q&A discussion.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sato Makoto Memorial 佐藤真さんを偲ぶ会


On September 26, I attended a memorial of Sato Makoto, a renowned documentary filmmaker who suddenly passed away this month at the age of 49. The memorial was filled with so many people, especially from the Japanese movie industry. It was comforting for me to talk about Sato-san with people who know him. I was glad to be there. I even met some new people. Sato-san connects people, even after his death.

In the train to Ashikaga, I read his first book NICHIJO TOIU NANO KAGGAMI which I bought in Jimbo-cho in Tokyo. This book is so interesting. Sato-san's thoughts and philosophy stimulates my heart and brain even now. His body is certainly dead, but his works, his spirit is very much alive.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nature 自然


When I return to my home town, Ashikaga, I take a walk every morning. Because it's been so hot every day since I returned, I felt that the season remained as the mid-summer, but if you look closely, you see many signs of the arrival of fall - red dragonflies, cluster-amaryllis, cosmoses, etc. The nature is still functioning despite the serious and continuous abuse it takes from human beings. I feel grateful. I wish the descendants of the meditating frog on the amaryllis will still enjoy their lives in the next year, the following year, and 100 years from now. I wonder what we should and should not do to realize that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A discussion with Kawase-san 河瀬直美さんと対談



On Sept 19, I met Naomi Kawase (MOGARI NO MORI) to have a discussion on documentary. It will be transcribed on GENDAI SHISO magazine to be published in early October.

At a meeting right before the discussion, I was astonished to hear Mr. O, an editor of the magazine say "the article will probably be about 30,000 words." 30,000 words?! That's a book, not an article. Amazing. Mr. O also showed me the line-up of the people who are contributing to this issue, which included almost every important figure in the Japanese documentary world. This is a must buy, really. In the line-up of essays, I found the name of Makoto Sato (LIVING ON THE RIVER AGANO) who suddenly passed away last month. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the last thing he wrote...

Anyway, Kawase-san wore a beautiful kimono. When taking pictures together, she made me laugh saying "Soda-san, people might misunderstand that you are having fun at a bar in Ginza." Her background, way of thinking, and approach to documentary, are quite the opposite of mine, but at the same time, I felt that the we shared the same philosophy toward filmmaking in a profound way. It was quote deep. The magazine will transcribe almost everything we said in an hour and a half discussion. I wish we had more time, though. She said she's coming to Yamagata Film Festival, so hopefully, we'll continue our talk there...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Japan 日本



午後1時開場 1時半開演

10月6日(土) 山形ドキュメンタリー映画祭
午前10時〜12時 J Pitch セミナー 『選挙』とWhy Democracy?
午後1時30分〜 『選挙』上映+想田舞台挨拶

Last night, I arrived in Japan. This is the 4th time in Japan this year! My family and cats show not much interest in me anymore. hahaha. During my stay here, I'm planning the following events.See you there!

Sunday, Sept 23 @ Uplink X
Q&A after the screening of CAMPAIGN (which starts at 10:45 AM)

Sunday, Sept 30 @ Uplink Factory
Double Feature of CAMPAIGN and FRAGMENT (house opens at 1 PM)
Q&A together with Director Makoto Sasaki, Jicchoku Inoue, and Yama-san.

Saturday, Oct 6 Yamagata Documentary Film Festival
10 AM - J Pitch Seminar CAMPAIGN and WHY DEMOCRACY?
1:30 PM- Screening of CAMPAIGN, Q&A after the screening

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Toronto トロント

 WHY DEMOCRACY?のプロモーションで、14日、トロントへ行った。NYからは飛行機で1時間半くらいだし、16日には日本へ行かねばならぬので、日帰りの強行軍である。
 まずは、カナダの公共放送CBCのインタビューを受けた。CBCではWHY DEMOCRACY? を放送するので、30分のプロモ番組を作るのである。僕は1時間くらいあれこれ喋った。WHY DEMMOCRACY?では、10本の映画に付随した10個の「クエスチョン」もメインテーマである。ロンドンでも聞かれたが、ここでもそれに対する答えを要求された。僕の答えを少しだけ紹介するとー

Q 世界の大統領を選ぶとしたら、誰に投票するか? 答え:ダライラマ!
Q テロリズムは民主主義を破壊し得るか? 答え:破壊し得る。しかし、僕はテロリズムそのものよりも、「テロとの戦い」を遂行する側の方が民主主義を破壊しうると思う。
Q 良い独裁者というものはあり得るか? 答え:あり得ない。素晴らしい人が独裁者になったとしても、批判を受けたり政権交代する可能性がなければ、必ず腐敗する。だから長続きしない。
Q 民主主義は誰にとっても良いものであり得るか? 答え:あり得ない。独裁者にとっては良くない制度だ。
Q なぜ投票するのか? 答え:政治は僕らの生活と人生に大きな影響を与えるから。
Q 政治家は地球の気候変化は食い止められるか? 答え:そう願いたい。でなければ、我々人類は絶滅するしかない。

 インタビューには、WHY DEMOCRACY?の中心人物・BBCのニックとTV2のメッテも参加した。僕らはその後、トロント映画祭の会場に向かい、WHY DEMOCRACY?のパネル・ディスカッションに登壇した。というか、本当はニックとメッテだけが登壇する予定だったのだが、僕も飛び入りで参加したのだ。司会はトロント映画祭ドキュメンタリー部門のプログラマー、トム・パワーズだ。彼はNYに住んでいるので、面識がある。

On Sept 14th, I went to Toronto for the promotion of WHY DEMOCRACY? It was a one day trip because it takes only about an hour and a half from NY to Toronto by air, and also because I am flying to Tokyo on 16th.

As soon as I arrived in Toronto, I was interviewed by CBC, Canada's public TV/Radio network. Since CBC will air WHY DEMOCRACY? (which includes my film CAMPAIGN! THE KAWASAKI CANDIDATE), they are making a half hour promo. In WHY DEMOCRACY?, 10 questions are attached to 10 documentary films they are showing, so I was ask to answer these questions in the interview. Here are some of my answers:

Q: Who would you vote for as President of the World? A: The Dalai Lama!
Q: Can terrorism destroy democracy? A: Yes, but I'm more worried about the "War on Terror" because it can really destroy democracy.
Q: Are dictators ever good? A: No. Even if a great person becomes a dictator, he/she would definitely get corrupted if there's no criticism or the possibilities of change of government.
Q: Is democracy good for everyone? A: No, it's bad for dictators.
Q: Why bother to vote? A: Because politics can affect my life and well being tremendously.
Q: Can politicians solve climate change?: A: I hope so, otherwise, we'll be extinct.

They also interviewed Nick Fraser of BBC and Mette Hoffman Meyer of TV2 who started and run this huge project. After the interview, we all headed to Toronto Film Festival where we had a panel discussion on WHY DEMOCRACY? Actually, only Nick and Metter were supposed to be on stage, but I also spoke briefly as a guest. The moderator was Thom Powers, documentary programmer of the festival, whom I met in New York before.

Because I had to catch my airplane at 6:15, I left the panel in the middle. It was a very brief visit to Toronto, but very much worthwhile.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


 エディ・ホニグマン監督の「Forever」という傑作ドキュメンタリーがNYのFilm Forumで上映中です。僕はトロントの映画祭Hot Docsで観たんですが、パリの有名な墓地を訪れる人々に話を聞くだけの内容なのに、なぜか涙が流れます。なぜそんなにいいのか、なぜひとつひとつのショットにこれほどまでに惹かれ感動してしまうのか、うまく分析できない不思議な作品です。
 Hot Docsで観た後、僕は感激してホニグマンさんに「この映画を観れただけでもトロントに来た甲斐ありました」と本心から告げました。僕の正直な気持ちがストレートに伝わったのか、ホニグマンさんは涙ぐみ、僕は少々うろたえました。でも、そういう方だし、そういう映画なんです。


FOREVER by a renowned documentary filmmaker Heddy Honigmann is now playing at New York City's Film Forum. I saw this masterpiece at Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, and I was deeply moved, to say the least. The premise cannot be more simple - the filmmaker interviews some people who visit Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. But the result is just incredible, and it's hard to analyze why it touches you.

Right after I saw it in Toronto, I met Heddy and told her that it was worthwhile to come to Toronto because I was able to watch FOREVER. Listening to my very honest feeling, Heddy had some tears in her eyes, which touched me even more. I recommend everybody to see this remarkable film.

(Picture: with Heddy Honigmann in Toronto)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

London ロンドン

 9月5日から8日まで、ロンドンへ赴いた。WHY DEMOCRACY? シリーズのBBCでの立ち上げを記念するイベントに出席するためだ。WHY DEMOCRACY? では、『選挙』を含む10本の長編ドキュメンタリーと22本の短編ドキュメンタリーを世界200カ国で一挙に放映する。
 このいかにも大掛かりな大プロジェクトを発案したのは、BBCの名物プロデューサー、ニック・フレーザーだ。ちょうど1年前に出来立てホヤホヤの『選挙』をNYのIFP Marketで「発見」し、シリーズにねじ込んでくれた人物でもある。ニックは『選挙』をDVDで観たとき「面白くて椅子から転げ落ちた」らしく、僕の携帯にいきなり電話をかけ「世界23カ国で放送しないか」と言ってきた(当時はまだ23カ国の予定だった)。ほとんど面識のない僕に、作品を観ただけでそんなオファーをしてきたことに、この人のもつ強烈な自信と手腕を感じた。感謝もした。そのニックに久々に会えて嬉しかった。彼は山さんのことを親しみを込めてMr. Beanと呼ぶのだが、山さんの近況を僕が報告すると目を細めて喜んでくれた。
 監督は僕の他にデンマークのカーステン・カエールとNYのアレックス・ギブニーが来ていた。二人とも超ベテランのドキュメンタリストだが、特にアレックスの「エンロン 巨大企業はなぜ崩壊したのか」は日本でも公開されたし、米アカデミー賞にもノミネートされたからご存じの方もいるだろう。

(写真 上:ニックと 下:アレックスと)

I visited London from September 5th until 8th in order to attend the launch event of WHY DEMOCRACY? series on BBC. 38 broadcasters in 200 countries will air this WHY DEMOCRACY? series which consist of 10 feature documentaries (including my CAMPAIGN) and 22 shorts.

The idea of this huge media event came from BBC's legendary producer Nick Fraser who also "discovered" my newly completed CAMPAIGN at IFP Market in New York about a year ago. I remember I suddenly received a phone call from Nick about 2 weeks after the market. He said he wanted to show CAMPAIGN in 23 countries (it was ONLY 23 countries, back then). He also told me that he laughed so hard that he fell out of the chair when he saw CAMPAIGN on DVD screener for the first time. I was quite astonished and thankful that he was offering such a huge deal to me without knowing me personally. I also thought that he must be incredibly self-confident and powerful if he could decide such a thing only by watching my movie. So, to see him again in London was such a pleasure. He thinks Yama-san is like Mr. Bean, and seemed to enjoy hearing from me about what's happening to Yama-san these days.

I met other directors in the series, too. They were Karsten Kjaer from Denmark and Alex Gibney from New York. Alex is very well-known especially for his oscar nominated ENRON: SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM. While chatting with him, I was surprised that he knew so much about Japan, and even more surprised that he once interviewed Beate Sirota Gordon who wrote women's rights article in the draft of Japanese constitution right after the WWII. I once made a documentary on Beate, too, so we talked a lot about her and about Japanese constitution. I never dreamed that I would talk about Beate with Alex. And he was so knowledgeable, intelligent, and funny!

(Pictures - Up: Nick and me. Bottom: Alex and me)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007