Tokyo 2013 Interview: Fukada Koji On His Rohmer-Inflected AU REVOIR L' ETE

Director Fukada Koji is no stranger to the Tokyo International Film Festival. His first feature Hospitalité was awarded the prize in the Japanese Eye section in 2010 before going on to screen at many other film festivals. Au revoir l' été is Fukada's second feature, a drama which follows 18-year-old Sakuko as she takes a trip to a seaside town with her aunt, meeting an assortment of friends and acquaintances through which she comes to understand about life and love.

The environment and setting felt integral to the story in this film. Where was the beach town in which the film was set? Do you have a connection to this location?

There was no one town, we actually filmed in two different locations. I've always lived in Japan and I don't have a big connection with the sea but because the movie is set during summer time I thought the seaside would be a good location. Theres a subplot about the tsunami from the March 11th earthquakes so I thought that this could tie in with location too.

This isn't the only film at this festival or recently that has included the earthquake in its plot it seems many films now are incorporating these elements into their films. Will this define Japanese film for the foreseeable future?

Yes, I do think it will continue and so as not to forget this very disastrous event I think that its not a bad thing that it continues. This isn't a movie about the nuclear events, there are a lot of characters surrounding this film so I think it is natural to have somebody who is affected by Fukushima. In our staff there was a person who was from Fukushima, there are people with relatives from there, so as a connection I think that it's possible we have that in there. That is why it is important for me to have that in my movie.

Theres a soft light that invades many scenes, what were your desires for the visual image of the film?

I didn't add anything in the editing I just wanted to have a light that would depict the end of summer.

You wrote the script yourself and it contains several different characters, men and women, boys and girls of varying ages and backgrounds, how do you find the voice for characters who are different from yourself?

To find the voice in each character I have three rules, firstly to find the actual dialogue through their relationship, secondly to not let them speak their real intentions through their voice and the third is to never let them speak a catchy dialect.
This film is mainly my imagination but they could be people I have met before in my life.

Is there a character in this film who you put yourself into, someone recognizable as you?

I didn't depict any of myself in this movie but perhaps without my intention I have put myself into it.

Will you continue to make movies of this genre?

I think the genre will change but I don't think deep inside the real structure of the movie will change. There are two movies I am focusing on now the first is a science fiction movie and the second is a ancient fairytale but set in modern Japan. The fairytales will be in costume play depicting ancient times.

Was there any films that you looked at specifically when making this film?

I didn't especially watch any specific movie during the making of this film but I love movies, I am a cineaste and I myself chased the movies I liked to enter this industry so through my movies I could be showing some European movies some Asian movies that I watched when I was young.

I love Eric Rohmer, of course, but I don't want you to misunderstand, it isn't just this particular movie that is about Eric Rohmer, every time I make a movie I have his shadow looming over me, I ask myself "how would he shoot this"?

Is the French international title of the movie a nod to Rohmer?

The producer made the final decision on the international title, not me. The producer first wanted to make a movie about a holiday and when the film was made he thought it was European in a good way so he gave it a French title. The title was actually made before the movie was made,the producers read my script and thought it was European.

How would you feel about using the French international title in Japan?

If I could pronounce it!


(Photo via Nippon Cinema.)
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