East Side Stories: Interview with special guests Mirai Moriyama and Keiichi Hara

Japan Foundation touring film programme
until 27 March nationwide

(All films are in Japanese with English subtitles)

The Japan Foundation UK annual touring film programme this year focuses on the framework of ‘youth’ to introduce Japanese cinema to British audiences. Until 27 March, films will be shown at various locations across the country with the focus on reflecting the lives, society and culture surrounding the younger generation in Japan.

We recently had an opportunity to speak with actor Mirai Moriyama who features in Love Strikes! and The Drudgery Train and Keiichi Hara, the director of Colorful, who both travelled to the UK for Q&A sessions with British audiences following selected viewings of their respective films. A summary of our interviews follows below:

For more details about the film line-up please visit http://www.jpf-film.org.uk/

Interview with Mirai Moriyama
(actor in Love Strikes! and The Drudgery Train)

For the British audiences that will watch Love Strikes!, what in particular would you like them to pay attention to in the film?

I wonder if British people would consider the main character to believable, in say, London, but I would be happy if they shared some common ground and could come to understand him. This film also includes some great, real Japanese pop music so I hope that people can enjoy it for that, too.

You are well-known for your portrayal of young adults living in today’s Japanese society through films like The Drudgery Train, Love Strikes! and A Chorus of Angels. As a young adult yourself, what do you think about the current state of youths in Japan today?

The behaviour of the "youth" of a generation does not necessarily reflect contemporary trends as much as the older generation, who were once "youths" themselves, might disapprovingly suppose.

The young are destined to live in the present. They do not necessarily care about the past or the future. This is not to say that they are narrow-minded, but that it is a part of the natural flow. Of course, each person has different hardships, but they all hang on to their lives, adapting themselves to their own ‘present’ while facing opposition. In the end, as an individual or as a group and whatever position you take in society, the choice is to survive or drop out. That’s it. It’s not just something that you can judge from the outside, it’s up to you to judge whether you are surviving or not.

The characters that appear in The Drudgery Train, Love Strikes! and A Chorus of Angels may be ridiculed as young people who live at the very lowest level of society, but even they are ‘surviving’.

Mirai Moriyama in The Drudgery Train

Mirai Moriyama in Love Strikes!
Crescendo / PARCO / Yahoo! JAPAN / TV OSAKA / TV AICHI

Can you tell us what you have felt or learnt through the film production process as an actor? (For example, through your interaction with other performers or directors?)

In the end, films are always under the control of the director, but the process of making a film involves creativity and energy from all departments (arts, production, etc) and I believe they all have to share the risk that accompanies this. Of course, the actors are included in this process, too. From the previously mentioned three films, the director in each case was able to connect everyone together horizontally, not vertically, and could discuss the interpretation of the script on a level playing field with the actors. This made a really big impression on me.

What kind of film would you like to tackle next?

I will leave it up to fate.


Interview with Keiichi Hara (director of Colorful)

For the British audiences that will watch Colorful, what in particular would you like them to pay attention to in film?

I think that there are many British people who, like their Japanese counterparts, would like to escape the boredom of their everyday lives. But this film is about how much such tedium is actually helping people. It's not a quiet film at all - in fact, it's pretty lively!

What kind of film would you like to tackle next?

A film that challenges and provokes the audience.

© 2010 Eto Mori / Fuji Television Network, Inc. / Sunrise Inc. / Dentsu Inc. /
Aniplex Inc. / Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. / Toho Co., Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is produced and organised by the Japan Foundation with kind support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Japan Airlines.