Saturday, September 22, 2007

[Japanese Film Festival] Dialogue Session with Yoshiyuki Kazuko

LtoR: Interpreter, Yoshiyuki Kazuko and Leong Chun Meng (Singapore Film Society)

The following panel discussion was done through an interpreter, so some bits might have been lost in translation both ways as questions posed were also in Japanese. Seemed that a lot of Yoshiyuki Kazuko fans were present for both the screening and post screening discussion. So, to the best of my ability with loads of caffeine in the system, here goes:

Q: I am from Sakai Prefecture, and the movie and your protrayal made me think about my own grandmother. I would also like to say that I was impressed that you were accurate in the speaking of the dialect of the Prefecture.
Yoshiyuki: I never expected to have someone here in the audience from Sakai Prefecture, and am worried that my speech in the dialect might not be perfect.
The interpreter then shared with us that there are slight variations in the Japanese language, with different Prefectures having their own local dialects.
Yoshiyuki: I had received a tape on the Sakai dialect one month before filming, and sometimes I had forgotten how to say it during the acting out of the role. In Oriume, speaking was not as difficult as the dealing with Alzheimer's, and I had stayed with Alzheimer patients for a while and it was an interesting experience.

Q: There are not many scripts with the elderly in lead roles. How did you manage to clinch these roles?
Yoshiyuki: I have been acting for many years, and I feel fortunate to have gotten these roles.

Q: Which Prefecture were you from and where were you born? Also, what's the author of the Gabai Granny story like?
Yoshiyuki: The author of Gabai Greanny had based this real story on his grandmother in Sakai Prefecture. This film shows something we've forgotten, like people's warmness and care for one another. This is missing in today. Myself, I'm from Tokyo.

Q: How difficult is it for a Tokyoite to be in the shoes of someone in 1957 Sakai Prefecture?
Yoshiyuki: First of all this grandmother is very hardworking. I have seen these people even in Tokyo, like using a well pump to pump water, cook rice using dry wood. But even if I've seen it, I haven't done it. In acting I got to seem as if I've done it for a very long time, so it's tough. Also I had to speak in the Sakai dialect, and have to look so used to the lifestyle.

Q: There were 3 of your movies screened today (Nianchan, Oriume and Gabai Granny). Which is your favourite and why?
Yoshiyuki: I like all of them. Nianchan was in an era about the same as that of Gabai Granny. Every film has its good part.

Q: You have worked with great directors like Shohei Imamura and Takeshi Kitano. Could you share with us your experience in working with them?
Yoshiyuki: For Imamura, he was a very good director, and well known in Japan. I worked with him when I just started my career, and was afraid of him. But I felt fortunate to have worked with him. As for Kitano, I worked with him in Glory to the Filmmaker! (Kantoku Banzai). He really enjoys making films, and we enjoyed ourselves in the production. The atmosphere was very nice. As for Nagisa Oshima, we heard that he was a very fierce director, but when I got to work with him, he was not fierce at all. He allows us to see how he plans his camera movement, and allows us space to act within the range.

Q: Your films today had explored themes of senior citizens in Japan. Are there any other similar themed movies you're working on? And what are your thoughts on what other issues that can be explored in the movies?
Yoshiyuki: The ageing society is a big issue and everybody is concerned about this. It is good that these movies are made and raised the awareness of these issues, and similarly with awareness raised, comes more of such movies. It also involves younger family members as well, and I believe that more of these type of movies will come about in future.

Q: Have you read another other books or watched other movies in preparation for your role, for example Pushing Hands by Ang Lee. What were your references?
Yoshiyuki: The title of the movie was called "House of Grandma" in Japan, and it was acted by the real grandmother. I can't beat that acting because she's real!

Q: In Taiwan, many children are brought up by their grandmothers. In Japan is this also a trend nowadays? Do women become full time mothers or do grandmothers take care of the children?
Yoshiyuki: Nowadays in Japan, you don't see many members of the family being together, and the family units are getting smaller. With mothers working, the grandmothers take care of the children. This might be an ideal style, or maybe because of other circumstances like the housing problem.

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