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Special Interview: Part 2 “Historical films of the world”

Part 2 “Historical films of the world”

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M: So the actual film festival starts and the wheels are in motion. How do you select

the films?

T: What we discuss each time is where do we draw the line for what we call a period film or a historical film. In other words, the criteria for period films and historical films.

M: Oh, right.

T: There are several, but firstly, era.

M: Up to which era can be deemed “historical”, right?

T: That’s right. History, particularly modern history, often means political history. Therefore, especially post World War Two, it’s obviously politics. It’s a real pity for a historical film to be told only in terms of politics, so we want to come as close to the modern era as possible before that, and therefore one of our yardsticks is the 1930s.

M: Is there a reason for making the 1930s a yardstick?

T: Actually this year is the first year we went as far as the 30s. Naturally the progression of history is different for each country. So it’s difficult, but largely it was between the end of the First World War and the start of the Second World War that the middle class was formed in the developed countries of Europe and America. So it’s before that, I mean, having obvious social classes, is more interesting is terms of drama.

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M: It occurred to me that anyone who experienced the 1930s in a real sense would have to have been born in the 1920s, which would make them almost 100 years old now. Most of those people would have died by now, wouldn’t they? In other words, I thought that was a yardstick. You could say that an era that hasn’t been experienced in a real sense by anyone alive today can be called history.

T: I hadn’t thought of that myself, but now that you mention it, you’re right.

M: Once the Second World War becomes “history”, we might be able to discuss it less emotionally.

T: I don’t know about that, but I hope so.

M: You said at a press conference that you want to broaden the concept of period films.

T: Yes

M: The “Rurouni Kenshin” series isn’t generally perceived as a period work, but if you think about it, it is. Jackie Chan’s “Drunken Master II” is a historical film in that it’s based on historical fact.

T: Because there hadn’t been that kind of categorization until now. Ms. Kinugawa made a list of 290 films this time too. We use words like “historical film” and “epic film” when searching the database, and just those words take us up to around the time of the Iran-Iraq War.

M: Oh, really?

T: It’s fundamentally different to the way we categorize them. Movies like “The Four Seasons” would be an epic film.

M: “Jersey Boys” too.

T: We had a member of staff with a personal connection to Roger Garcia, the director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which is a relatively respected film festival in Asia, and I asked him through that staff member. About out endeavor to collect and show only historical movies.

M: “What do you think of how we’re doing it?”

T: Yes. And he says “Why do you ask me? I don’t know.” (Laughs)

M: Ahahaha.

T: He says “You’re the only ones in the world doing this.”

(Everyone bursts out laughing)

T: “You’re the only ones in the world sorting movies like this so do it with confidence.”

M: That’s encouraging.

T: Yeah, I guess so.

M: That’s a great story.

T: But if you think about it, actually there are lots of film festivals in the world, and there are some that do particular genres like Westerns, for example, but we’re the only ones in the world doing historical films.

M: That’s quite amazing. It really is important work.

T: So myself and Ms. Kinugawa are number one and number two in the world in terms of knowledge of this year’s new historical movies.

Everyone bursts into laughter.

M: An interview with number one and number two in the world.

T: Really big guests. (Laughs)

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M: You’re creating something that has never existed before, and couldn’t be found anywhere in the world until now, aren’t you?

T: Yes. Japan’s so-called period films and America’s Westerns are historical films that manage to comprise stand-alone genres. This is actually a very rare case. Japanese period films are in fact a very rare genre in the world. Historical films aren’t all lumped together in one category overseas.

M: It’s interesting to think about why a genre of films that is unprecedented anywhere in the world was born in Japan and reached such heights. Some of Akira Kurosawa’s movies are period works, and Kenji Mizoguchi’s “Uegetsu Monogatari”, which received the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, was filmed at Daiei’s studios in Kyoto.

T: Yes. So I think even delving into only Japanese period films would make for something interesting. But it feels like that’s already been done in Japan. The Kyoto International Film Festival has already done a lot, and many of the regular movie screenings at the The Museum of Kyoto focus on period films.

M: That reaffirms in my mind that in that sense, too, the Kyoto Historica International Film Festival has huge potential.

T: The fact that we’re doing historical films of the world is an important point.

M: Historical films of the world.

T: Because history exists in every country.

M: And films exist in just about every county too.

T: That’s right.

M: In that sense, there tends to be a focus on the uniqueness of the Kyoto Historica International Film Festival as a historical film festival, but personally I like the fact that you’ve got your bases well covered in terms of the “International Film Festival” part.

T: Because we’re not limiting it to Japanese films.

M: That’s exactly what we are interested in at ENJOY KYOTO.

(To be continued)