A film by Jonathan SolerVersion Française
With: Mariko TSUBOI et Yuta KATO
52 min. / color / 2010 / Japanese
A student in Tokyo. His camera. His world of loneliness. And then, a classmate he likes. In his own way. Filming her. Secretly… Forgetting about privacy...
Shot in a POV subjective camera, "Aru Manazashi" is an experimental film set in Tokyo - about the lack of privacy and the sentimental misery in our modern society.
"A perverted poetic experimental love (?) story"
USA/Canada : Rising Sun Media (VOD)
WHY DID YOU MAKE THIS FILM ?
I was in Japan for one year at university (from September 2009 to September 2010) and it was absolutely out of the question to leave the country without having shot a fiction in that country.
In early January 2010, I went to a concert in Shibuya (Tokyo), I shot some part of the live concert with my small compact photo camera hidden in my pocket. I wasn’t even looking at what I was shooting. When I got back home, I watched what I shot and, when I saw those peeping-film-like videos, I thought it was visually extremely powerful; it could become a very interesting concept as a movie.
And I remembered an idea I had several years before about a guy in love with a girl who doesn’t know it and he spies and shoots video of her without her noticing it… A kind of espionage love story. There are sometimes, in movies, some “voyeur” shots, some shots took, for example, hidden outside a window, spying someone inside, and giving this feeling that we’re peeping to something we shouldn’t. Brian de Palma did it quite a lot. It’s also often done in 80’s horror films.
And I thought it could be really interesting to make a film only made with videos shot through the camera of a guy who, at first, shoot in a contemplative and poetic way things of his lonely life, and then, probably out of boredom, let himself crossing the line not to be crossed: to shoot someone he likes without her knowing. At first, with some distance, and then, little by little, forgetting totally the limits of privacy and intimacy…
I wanted, with that film, to raise a question: in this world where anyone can upload images/videos of everyone without permission, will "privacy" or "respect to one’s image" still mean something for a long time?
The film raises that question, maybe in a puzzling way, or even a disturbing way, but at least it raises the question in a very clear way. It brings no answer, no moral. It’s not its purpose. It lets anyone find their own answers.
WHAT KIND OF RESPONSES DID YOU GET WHEN YOU SCREENED IT TO PEOPLE?
Well... I actually didn’t screen it that much!
With Aru Manazashi, I really wanted people to feel like they’re watching some stolen videos. At first, it’s harmless videos, but then it’s more disturbing videos since he shoots, without her noticing, a girl he loves. And he goes very far in that spiral of indiscreet cameraman.
Because we see what he shoots, not only there is no moralizing point of view, but it makes the audience complicit in it. And to feel like a “peeping Tom” is not a pleasing sensation. That’s why the film might be disturbing, for someone who can’t take some distance from the content. However, for someone who can take some distance from the content, and not to forget that everything is fake and staged, I think it might be a quite unique experiment of cinema, and thought provoking.
It’s a film I wish I could have watched as a viewer, to know how I would have reacted to it. And when I screened it to a few people, it generated very interesting discussions and reactions. Nevertheless, I’m careful to whom I show the film.
WHAT KIND OF OBSTACLES DID YOU ENCOUNTER MAKING THE FILM?
I thought it would be complicated, if not impossible, to find an actress who would understand the point and the originality of this project. If you’re a foreigner in Tokyo, if you make a movie with a ridiculous budget, and if your movie deals with an ultra delicate topic, and with an unusual visual style, you don’t put the odds on your side. I thought that to find an actress would be the biggest, if not the only real obstacle of the film. And I was wrong.
With my friend, and actor in the film, Yuta Kato, we met some actresses and we explained them the project. Each time, I feared an unpredictable reaction. And each time, I was surprised to see that they were curious, asked questions about the style, the content… And from memory, no one seemed to show a bit of a worry. Quite the opposite, I think that such a project must have been a kind of amusement to her, or a challenge.
Which is fine! To work with people who have fun on my shooting, or people that take it as a challenge, that’s an attitude that gives me even more motivation.
WOULD THE FILM BE VERY DIFFERENT IF IT HAD A HIGHER BUDGET?
I don’t even know what more money would have been useful to. I felt no frustration because of that. I don’t think the film would have been better with more money... Well, I don’t see how. I never thought "If only I had few bucks more..." No, I could do everything I wanted…
And to answer the question, yes, the film would be different with a higher budget. It would have been more “reasonable” and more consensual, because it would have had to be more “profitable”. And it would have lost all its meaning!
Some movies need to be, as much as possible, detached from financial constraints to be able to go as far as they need. I think Aru Manazashi is one of them.
COULD YOU GIVE US YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND THOUGHTS TOWARDS FILMS AND FILM MAKING?
No matter what film I make, might it be accessible to a big audience or “delicate” and experimental like Aru Manazashi, my process is the same. My main motivation, it’s an absolute love for movies, and sometimes, the disappointment to see so few movies trying something different, unusual. So, through its topic and its style, I try to make a movie I wish I could see, but doesn’t exist as far as I know.
My wish, as a filmmaker, is to try! Even if it totally fails… I have more admiration for filmmakers who tried crazy things and totally failed, than for those who did masterpieces and played the safety card.
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