Backstage Interview: INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Backstage Interview: INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

INTERVIEW WITH: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

FILM: "DRIVE MY CAR"

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          Q.    Congratulations.  Can you talk about casting Perry Dizon in the

                film?  What made you cast him and what made you decide to

                choose him as part of a multi-lingual production of Uncle

                Vanya.

          A.    As a Filipino actor, I auditioned him through Zoom.  And I

                realized that he was the most experienced actor, and he has the

                ability to be very flexible.  I knew with this production that

                we are working with different cultures and there would be

                differences, but I thought that I could work with him, and, of

                course, I knew he was working with a director I respect very

                much, Lav Diaz, and if I can work with him, I'm very happy.

                And as a result, I think it ended up being a wonderful film.

 

          Q.    I will share my questions, so I will ask you in English.  So my

                question is simply:  Why do you think you could win the Oscars,

                especially so DRIVE MY CAR is very unique film in terms of the

                language or screenplays and others, so why do you think you can

                get a big reputation from our American people?

          A.    I think at the end of the day, I think it really comes down to

                luck.  I, of course, watched the other nominated films.  They

                were all wonderful, so it was a big surprise for me, and I feel

                very much lucky to have won.

                And, of course, I thank -- I very much thank the Academy

                members for seeing something in this film.  And I think there

                was something about this film that matched with the change and

                the times that we are living through, and, of course, the

                Coronavirus pandemic and all of the millions of deaths and

                losses that it has caused.  I think this story about loss and

                then also about how to live on after this loss, I think this

                story somehow resonated with a lot of people here.

 

          Q.    Congratulations.

          A.    Thank you very much.

 

          Q.    Two questions.  First one about the length of the movie because

                a three-hour movie, you know, when people hear it is three

                hours, they say, "Oh, my God.  What will I do?"  But once you

                are in it, you can't stop watching it.  But were you nervous

                about the time and could it have been longer?

                And the other question, quickly, is about Chekhov, and how you

                translated -- how you used Chekhov and translated to Japanese

                to make sense and then to make sense universally?

 

          A.    Well, first of all, regarding the length.  I think a

                three-hour-long movie, 179-minute movie might sound very long,

                and I understand how people would think it's very long.

                However, living in daily life, I think we all realize that time

                can feel short or long depending on what you are doing.  Three

                hours doesn't always have to feel so long, and I know this as a

                film fan myself.  And so through these edits and finding a

                three-hour-edit version, I felt that this three-hour version

                actually felt the shortest.  If I had made it shorter, I think,

                in fact, it could have felt longer, and I think that's the

                result of an edit that is fine-tuned.

 

          Q.    (In Japanese.)

          A.    And so there was already a wonderful Japanese translation of

                Chekhov's writing that I used.  It was translated by Masaharu

                Ura, and I used a lot of the writing that was already

                translated, but, again, I was using film actors, and I think I

                needed them to not speak so theatrically, so I did make slight

                changes to make the language more natural or colloquial

                sounding.  But what I kept in mind was to always keep that

                strength that was already inherent in Chekhov's words.

 

          Q.    I just wanted to ask what are the challenges of directing a

                multilingual cast?

          A.    I didn't know at the beginning whether this was going to work

                or not.  But what I did think was in my head, I thought that it

                would be a good way to draw out good performances because if

                the actors do not understand the meanings of the words that

                they are performing with, I felt that the actors would really

                need to listen and watch carefully in order to perform.  And so

                that was something I was thinking in my head, and, of course, I

                wasn't sure, but then once we were rolling they put on these --

                the actors put on a brilliant performance.  But I will say the

                difficulty was also working with translators, and I am really

                grateful to wonderful translators and interpreters that I

                worked with.

 

          Q.    Congratulations.  As a filmmaker from Japan, your work has been

                recognized by the American film world with the Oscar, and your

                movie achieved a cross-cultural success.  And what does this

                mean to you?  How did you imagine your audience as you were

                making the film?

          A.    When I am making a film, I'm not necessarily imagining a

                general audience.  When I'm on set, I, myself, am a film

                viewer.  I like to watch a lot of films and, therefore, I have

                my own standards.  And so, in fact, I'm really thinking about

                my own personal standards and whether the filmmaking that I'm

                doing is meeting those standards, so in other words the

                audience is almost myself.  But at the same time I think

                because this comes out of watching many films, I have to

                believe that there's someone out there, there's an audience out

                there where this film can deeply resonate with them, and that's

                something I have to believe.  And I think as a result, it's

                been wonderful to see and hear from many people around the

                world.

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