Interview with Daisuke Miyazaki: Film should be free from anything

We speak to Daisuke Miyazaki about music, his recent film, and Japanese society.


Born in 1980, Daisuke Miyazaki started making films when he was student at Waseda University. In 2004, his thesis film “The 10th Room” won the Grand Prix at New York University’s KUT Film Festival in Japan. After graduating from college, he has worked for Leos Carax, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Kunitoshi Manda. “Yamato (California)” is his second feature film.

On the occasion of his film, "Yamato (California)" screening at Japan Cuts, we speak with him about music, his recent film,  Japanese society and many other topics.

Yamato (California) is screening at Japan Cuts, that will be on until July 23.



Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?

I liked art in general so it was a natural thing to start filmmaking because you can combine all art forms into one. The 2nd golden era of Hollywood, when I was a child in the 80’s and also the art house film boom in Japan when I was in college influenced me as well.

You have worked with Leos Carax and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Can you tell us a bit about these collaborations? Are there any differences between the way the Asian and the European filmmakers work? Any similarities?

All directors have their different styles of directing but I think the fundamental is quite the same everywhere, how to move the actor. Both of the directors above doesn’t put so much pressure on the actors. Instead they have a high skill for making the atmosphere and the crew and the cast show the best of what they already have.
What inspired you to direct Yamato (California). In general, what inspires you to make movies?

I was really into hip hop music those days, so that is one reason. Music and social topics inspire me a lot. Another reason is that I wanted to show the real Japan, instead of the Fujiyama Geisha kind.

It seems to me that “Yamato” has eclectic aesthetics. The scene where Rei first has dinner with Sakura’s family feels like an Ozu film for me. But at other moment, it is more postmodernist, like the first time we see Sakura rapping in a dumping site, a Japanese national flag is always visible behind her. How did you decide the visual style of the film?

As a postmodernist, I wanted to do a mixture of many styles by sampling them in a hip hop manner. In a world which doesn’t have a god or social rule, which is even called the era of post-truth, to show the diversity of shots and directing, felt real and right for me. And also, film should be free from anything.

It’s interesting to see a Korean-Japanese actress being cast as the surrogate of Japan, why did you decide to cast Hanae Kan in the lead role? Furthermore, what was the casting process for the film like?

I really liked her as an actress so that was the first reason. I realized she is Korean-Japanese later, which I think suited the theme very much. But even if she was not Korean, I would have offered her first.  Since we didn’t have so much money, I wrote her letters to get her in. It took time but it was worth it. In my opinion, she is the most passionate and talented young actress in Japan. I had Hanae in mind already so I had to find a girl that would fit her, make a good balance. 


Hanae Kan and Nina Endo give wonderful performances, especially in the scene where they have a big fight. It starts as playful but ends up bitter and sad. What’s like working with both actresses? To be more specific, how did you direct them in that scene?

My directing is similar to the directors above, so I give them space to reflect their real life and move as they want. Only when it is too much or they get off the rail, I suggest them the way to go. Since both of them had an interesting background and are interesting as individuals, it was an amazing experience for me to direct them.

Music plays a big part in the film. The music in the scene where Sakura meets with a mysterious rock band and finally finds her voice is amazing. How did you come up with the idea to combine instrumental rock music with hip-hop?

That band is a successor of the noise rock bands from the 60’s, which cooperated with the students movement and tried to make Japan independent. The interesting thing is they used an art form that came from US and tried to be free from US. I think music made in US, like hip hop or blues or jazz have the same kind of a background. They jack the art form the ones that rules made and try to counter them. That is the romantic theme that’s been repeated in the film. So, my idea of the scene was to combine the music of the marginals in that scene.

It’s exciting to see an independent film dealing with the reality of U.S. military base in Japan; however, after watching the film I was surprised that there is almost no mention of Okinawa. I was curious that is it a deliberate choice to focus exclusively on mainland Japan in “Yamato”?

There are some references by Kenzo and Kiko in the film to show our mental distance between. In my opinion, Okinawa is included into Japan as a nation, but it has a totally different background from Japanese history or culture. The Ainu race in the north is the same. It is a violent discussion to include them in the group of Yamato. Of course I see them, I go there pretty often since I believe there is a reality only people living around the base can know, but Okinawa is much more complicated than any other area in Japan and I will need more than two hours to express about it.


What is your opinion of the Japanese film industry at the moment?

I think it’s miserable. They threw away their strong points which is the mid sized films. There are so many big budget comic based or high school kids film that no one will remember next year and there are many talented art house directors at the same time who do not have enough budget to produce something which has at least the same quality to screen at theaters. The industry is closed to the international industry and quite conservative, just like the country itself, just aging without any clue that is getting weaker and weaker.

Which are your favourite filmmakers?

Asghar Farhadi, Lav Diaz, Diao Yinan, Ruben Ostlund, Na Hong-Jin, Andrea Arnold, Paolo Sorrentino, Lynne Ramsay, Carlos Reygadas, Amat Escalante, Mia Hansen-Love, Fritz Lang

Can you talk a little about your next project?

I have several projects I’m working on, but one is a road movie in Okinawa about their history and the future.

COMMENTS

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13 Assassins,1,2017,3,A Company Man,1,A few words about us,1,A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawm,1,A Love,1,A Man Vanishes,1,A Simple Life,1,A Single Rider,1,A Stone from Another Mountain to Polish Your Own Stone. Go Shibata,1,A Tale of Love,1,A Whale of a Tale,1,About Elly,1,Adam J. Symchuk,20,Adam John,6,Aditya Vikram Sengupta,1,Adriana Rosati,4,Age of Innocence,1,Akihiko Shiota,1,Akira Kurosawa,1,Akiyuki Shinbo,1,Ale Amout,1,Alex Oost,1,Alexander Knoth,1,Ali Asghar Vadayeh Kheiri,1,Amir Masoud Aghababeian,1,Amitabh Reza,1,Anand Singh,2,Andrew Thayne,5,Andy Willis,1,Anime,1,Animesh Aich,1,Ann Hui,1,Anna Bliss,3,Anshul Chauhan,2,Anurag Basu,1,Aqerat,1,Arang,1,Ariyuki Shinbo,1,Armour of God,1,Arrow,2,Art Film Fest Kosice,1,Article Films,1,Asghar Farhadi,1,Asha Jaoar Majhe,1,Asian Classics,19,Aya Itabe,1,Aynabaji,1,Bad Poetry Tokyo,4,BAMY,1,Bangkok Nites,1,Bangladesh,3,Banjong Pisanthanakun,1,Banmei Takahashi,1,Before We Vanish,1,Behind the Camera,1,Belgium,1,Ben Stykuc,5,Bengal,1,Bhutan,1,Billy Joe,2,Black,1,Bloody Muscle Builder in Hell,1,Bollywood,1,Branded to Kill,2,Breathless,1,Burma,1,Burning Birds,2,Bystanders,1,Cambodia,2,Camera Japan,10,Children Heaven,1,China,6,Chinese Policy Institute,6,Chinese Visual Festival,1,Choi Jin-ho,1,Choi Jin-won,1,Chris Berry,1,Chu Yuan,1,Chungking Express,1,Close-Knit,1,Coffeemates,1,Colette Balmain,7,Competition,1,Confessions,1,Creative Visions: Hong Kong Cinema,1,Crocodile,1,Crows Zero,1,Cyrano Agency,1,Daguerreotype,1,Daigo Matsui,1,Daisuke Gotô,2,Daisuke Miyazaki,3,David Chew,3,David Chew.,1,David Shin,1,Ddongpari,1,Dead Friend,1,Dead Sushi,1,Deadly Outlaw: Rekka,1,Deepak Rauniyar,1,Destruction Babies,1,Diary of June,1,Digger,1,Ding Shen,1,Dismembered,1,Documentaries,6,Documentary,2,Doenjang,1,Don Anelli,18,Double Life,1,Dr. Heo,1,drama,1,Duelist,1,East Winds Film Festival,1,Edmund Yeo,3,Educating Yuna,1,Eiji Uchida,1,Emmanuel Horlaza,1,Erotic Diary of an Office Lady,1,Eureka,2,Exploitation,25,Fabricated City,1,Faye Wong,1,Features,19,Feautures,1,Fel,8,Festivals,6,Filmdoo,6,Fireworks,1,Fireworks Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?,1,Five Flavors Festival,3,Five Flavours Festival,3,Flying Fish,1,Forgetting Vietnam,1,France,1,Fraser Elliott,1,Funeral Parade of Roses,1,Fuyuhiko Nishi,1,Gillian Anderson,1,Golden Horse Awards,1,Good -Bye Silence,1,Goro Miyazaki,1,Hanagatami,1,Hanuman,1,Hashiguchi Takaaki,1,Haunters,1,Helsinki Cine Aasia Festival 2018,1,Hidden Gems,35,Hideo Sakaki,1,High-Kick Girl,1,Hindi,1,Hirokazu Koreeda,3,Hiroshi Ando,1,Hiroshi Teshigahara,1,Hong Kong,4,Horror,2,I Wish,1,I-Lin Liu,8,ICA,3,Im Kyeong-soo,1,Imran Firdaus,1,In this Corner of the World,3,Indonesia,4,Interview,1,Interviews,23,Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan,1,Inugami,1,Iran,7,Ishmael Bernal,1,Isora Iwakiri,1,Jackie Chan,2,Jagga Jasoos,1,James Mudge,1,Japan,118,Japan Cuts,14,Japan Filmfest Hamburg,1,Japanese Film Festival Australia,1,Jeong Jae-eun,1,Jess Teong,1,Jimmy Henderson,2,Jithin K Mohan,1,Joe Odagiri,2,Johnnie To,1,Joko Anwar,1,Jonathan Wilson,6,Joo Ji-hong,1,Journey of the Tortoise,1,Jun Tanaka,1,Jung Yoon-suk,1,Junichi Kajioka,1,Junpei Mizusaki,1,K-dramas,12,Kaneto Shindo,1,Kang Je-gyu,1,Kang Yoon-Sung,1,Katsuya Tomita,1,kdrama,1,Kei Chikaura,1,Kei Ishikawa,1,Kengo Yagawa,1,Kenichi Ugana,1,Kill me,1,Killing Beauty,1,Kim Eun-hee,1,Kim Hong-seon,1,Kim Hyun-seok,1,Kim Jee-woon,1,Kim Ki-duk,1,Kim Kih-hoon,1,Kim Min Su kII,1,Kim Min-suk,1,Kim Tae-kyeong,1,Kingyo,2,Kirti Raj Singh,1,Kiss me,1,Kiyoshi Kurosawa,3,Koji Wakamatsu,1,Komiya Masatetsu,1,Kon Ichikawa,1,Konrad Aderer,1,Korea,1,korean drama,1,Krzysztof Pietrzak,1,Kun-Yu Lai,2,Kwak Kyung-taek,1,Kyoko Miyake,1,Kyriacos Kyriacou,2,Lady Snowblood,2,Laos,1,Lee Je-Yong,1,Lee Joo-young,1,Lee Jung-sun,1,Lee Myung-se,1,Lee Seo-goon,1,Leung Wing-Fai,1,Like Father,1,Like Son,1,Lim Sang-yoon,1,Lists,11,Little Big Soldier,1,Live Up To Your Name,1,Loi Bao,1,Los Angeles Indian Festival,1,Love,1,Lovers Are Wet,1,Lowlife Love,1,Lyberis,2,Madman,1,Mahde Hasan,1,Majid Majidi,1,Makoto Shinkai,1,Malaysia,5,Maria Georgiou,18,Mark Gallagher,1,Masaki Adachi,1,Masanori Tominaga,1,Masaru Konume,1,Masato Harada,1,Masatoshi Kurakata,1,Matt Cooper,9,Matthew D. 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Asian Film Vault: Interview with Daisuke Miyazaki: Film should be free from anything
Interview with Daisuke Miyazaki: Film should be free from anything
We speak to Daisuke Miyazaki about music, his recent film, and Japanese society.
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