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Reality richer, more interesting than fiction: Japanese director Kazuhiro Soda

Press Trust of India  |  Dharamshala 

Japanese filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda, who is showcasing his documentary film "Inland Sea" at Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), says he is drawn to reality as everybody's life has "drama and stories" worth capturing.

"Inland Sea", a riveting story about abandoned elders living their twilight years in a coastal town in Japan, was shot by Soda in 2014.

The film details the lives of fisherman Wan Chai and Kimiko, who are leading somewhat lonely lives in Ushimado, Honshu in west Japan.

Soda, in an interview with PTI, says he always follows his ten commandments while making a documentary, including his critically acclaimed works like "The Oyster Factory" and "Mental".

Working without a script and music and not doing research beforehand are some of the rules that he follows.

"I used to make a lot of TV documentaries for NHK, the Japanese public network, but the way these films were made was completely opposite. We had to do a lot of research before shooting and write a detailed script with a beginning, middle and end.

"We would even have shot lists and write narrations before shooting. We couldn't really escape from it, which gave me a lot of dilemma. Because, the reality is much richer and interesting than fiction," Soda said in the interview.

The constant nudging from his producers whenever he deviated from these rules ultimately led the director to go on his own path and come up with the ten commandments.

"So all my rules are actually anti-TV commandment, like no narration, no music, no research, no compilation of shot list. And also no superimposed style to explain who the characters are. Audiences are not stupid, they can figure out what we are trying to tell them," he said.

For "Inland Sea", Soda said it was just a by chance that he met Wan Chai and Kimiko.

"We didn't really pick them. I met Wan Chai, the 86-year-old fisherman on the street. He wanted to show his cats to the camera. He was the one who initiated the discussion. Same was the case with Kumiko. She kept intruding the frame and so we decided to explore her life."

And that's the beauty of reality, of life, Soda said, as he believes anyone in the world could be a subject for a film.

"I believe anybody in this world can be a subject or character in the film. Because, you know, life is tough. Everybody has drama and has stories. So as long as you're willing to listen and willing to look closely, you will find something interesting in everybody. So I don't really believe in picking and choosing subjects. I simply try to capture whoever I meet."


"Inland Sea", which recently toured the Berlin International Film Festival, was screened at Picture Time Digiplex at Dharamshala International Film Festival.

The film extravaganza will run till November 10.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 08 2019. 17:50 IST
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