I have three areas that I’d like to cover: community, memory, and death. This sounds odd, but I feel a little like I’m visiting a psychic and I’m going to be getting some spiritual answers.
Kore-eda laughs uproariously.
No, but, actually, I’m not kidding so much. My dearest friend passed away a month ago, so I’ve been thinking a lot about death and After Life. I’ve written extensively about that film. And I’m wondering, what do you think happens after death?
Kore-eda: Personally, I believe that nothing happens after one dies; it just ends there. But my interest is in how people continue to live their lives, after someone close to them passes away. That’s what I want to continue to portray. And though After Life was titled as such, in English, I wasn’t interested in what really happens after somebody dies, so much as the life. With that film, in particular, I basically used the situation in which dead people have to remember the brightest moment of their lives. So, even in a film about death, I think I was putting the spotlight on life itself.
I’ve chosen these three elements: community, memory, and death, because they seem to be the main thru-line in all your work, in all of your films. Community, especially, in After Life, Nobody Knows, and Hana, in which community is very important. I wonder if you could speak to the concept of community and what it means to you, in your own life and in your films, and why it’s important.
Kore-eda: I don’t think that I understand what I portray in my films to be community itself. I think about it as inter-relationships. It may be slightly different, or, perhaps, it’s the same thing. But I’m always interested in showing characters more than what is simply within them. I think that a true character emerges from interactions with others. Showing the self in interaction with another. That’s how a story would move, that’s how characters move. In After Life, you’ll see that the people in that way-station, they change with their interactions with the people who come through. The same thing in Hana, you see the protagonist changing by way of his interactions with others. So that’s the structure that I’m interested in: how people relate to others. So, perhaps, you might call it community, I call it inter-relationships.
Would you address the concept of cinema as a metaphor for life? I grew up with a single mother and I spent much of my childhood in movie theatres. So, in some ways, films became more real to me than life; and, certainly, a way of forgetting about my life. After Life included a very strong element of this notion of movies as a metaphor for life.
Taro Gato: Definitely!
[Kore-eda takes a couple of moments before responding and almost seems to be struggling for an answer.]
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