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Special Interview: Part 3 “National character seen in boy meets girl”

Part 3 “National character seen in boy meets girl”

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M: Tell us about the standards you use to choose foreign historical films.

T: Basically in the end it’s whatever I decide, but there are three things we look at.

M: Oh, three?

T: One is whether, as a historical film, a film has something modern about it. Whether it’s not just a predictable melodrama. The second is whether the film shows the audience something it wants to see. Whether it depicts something that hasn’t been seen before. And the third is the most important. Whether the film is interesting even without knowledge of the culture and history of that country.

M: I see.

T: Because when there are as many as 290 films, some of them will be films that rely too heavily on that country’s history. I mean, for example, there are any number of stories of the troubles and whatever of the leader of a country during a war of independence.

M: I suppose so.

T: There are also plenty of films where the protagonist is a national hero, and it’s something of a propaganda film for the current regime. We’d like to refrain from films that speak only of that kind of thing.

M: Is that not so much because it’s too political, but more because, as you said before, it’s difficult to understand the film without quite a deep knowledge of the history, culture and political system of that country?

T: Um, well, of course that’s part of it, but first of all it’s because that just makes for a boring movie.

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M: Hahaha. That’s true.

T: Too stereotypical.

M: A film festival wouldn’t work with just films like that.

T: But even so, cultural traits of a country are always apparent, and that is also what is interesting. I wonder why even the same boy meets girl type storyline can be depicted so differently. Those differences are also what is interesting.

M: Oh, yes, because the boy meets girl format is common the world over.

T: That’s right.

M: National characteristics that emerge in that format are interesting.

T: That’s exactly right. So we would say “no” to a film about the the Spanish Civil War and the rule of Franco and so forth that isn’t interesting without background knowledge, but there are plenty of films that, even without that kind of thing, are something that could only happen in Spain, or have a style that could only come from Korea, say.

M: Indian movies are like that, aren’t they? It’s not that they’re of a musical genre, but instead that the standard grammar of them is that there must be singing and dancing.

T: They’re typical, aren’t they?

M: I recently spoke to someone who performs tea ceremonies. He said that the rules of a tea ceremony are actually a “mold”. If you perform a tea ceremony in accordance with the mold, there’s actually overflow from the mold. There will be something that is hard to do, or something else that fits better. In other words, individuality manifests itself as a result of making a mold. What you’re saying is the same thing.

T: I think that’s it.

M: With a mold like “boy meets girl”, it’s easier to see differences between countries. So, the identity of a country or a people might be more apparent, not in a unique historical story, but in the “mold” of an entertainment film. It’s probably easier for us to internalize differences through this kind of film, more so than a film that is a highhanded recounting of history.

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T: A film isn’t interesting without those kinds of differences after all.

M: Which film has caused the most controversy?

T: Um, that would have to be “Ao, The Last Neanderthal” that we showed at the third festival.

M: Ah, the one that was showing the year I went.

T: Did you see it?

M: No, I really wanted to but I didn’t.

T: That’s a pity!

M: Was it good?

T: Well, it was…

M: ???

T: A curiosity that will go down in the history of the Historica Film Festival!

M: (Bursts out laughing)

T: “You call this history? It’s prehistory!”

(The two burst out laughing)

M: How was the reaction when it finished?

T: “That was really something.”

M: Ahahahaha

T: I mean, it’s not even historical, it’s prehistorical.

M: That’s true. (Laughs)

T: So the script just consisted of “ooh” and “aah” and the like.

M: Ahahahaha

T: Well, the monologue recounting what’s going on in the mind of the protagonist is there as narration.

M: Watching that with subtitles would really be an experience, wouldn’t it?

T: That film was really something special.

M: That’s really one that could only be shown at the Historica Film Festival, isn’t it? (laughs)

T: You definitely couldn’t see it anywhere else.

(To be continued)