Friday, April 10, 2015

To remember is to have forgotten

Arriving in Lincoln on Tuesday I was honored to share a meal with, among others, Wayoro Madoka, director of the Kawasaki Reading Room, one of the sponsors of my visit to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  In the evening, we attended a recital by Doctor of Musical Arts student Masayoshi Ishikawa (program below and HERE).  I was first contacted by Ishikawa-san last year after he had learned of my documentaries filmed in Fukushima.  Originally from Fukushima, Ishikawa-san had been living in the US since before the March 11, 2011, disasters and had wanted to see the films about his home prefecture.

My films became one of the influences for his composition "Suite for the Forgotten", and in his introduction to the performance, Ishikawa-san referenced a scene from 'A2-B-C' (WEBSITE) in which a 17 year old high school student says that one of the biggest problems in Fukushima is that people are starting to forget what happened.  During the second movement of the suite, Ishikawa-san sat at the piano where he played and sang (chanted?) words from a 500 year old poem.  In it, a lover declares, "if you say you remember me, it means that you had forgotten me." 

It was a humbling experience to speak with Ishikawa-san after the recital and to hear how his work had been influenced by mine.  I have always felt that my role as a filmmaker is to record the voices and stories of the people I document, but to then have those voices interpreted into music was something I had never even imagined.  I am also so grateful to Ishikawa-san for bringing my work to the attention of the Kawasaki Reading Room and asking them to sponsor my visit and film screening (INFO), thus also enabling me to attend the recital.

********** START update April 18, 2015 **********

The video of the recital has just been uploaded here:

 ********** END update April 18, 2015 *********

Over the next two days, I visited four classes at the university including one for directing feature films, one public speaking and two that were using media to affect social change.  I always enjoy visiting classes and receiving questions from students about my work especially when asked through the context of what they are studying.  Often it is when I am asked how or why I do what I do that I begin to think about it deeply for the first time.  Having to verbally explain something forces you to order and to put into words what until then had only ever been thoughts.

Ishikawa-san graciously agreed to reprise the second movement of his suite following the screening of 'A2-B-C' last evening.  As the credits rolled, he began to play the first chords of his composition, the emotion in the film, in the room and the music joining together in a finite beauty that will only ever be known to the people who were present in that room and one that can never again be repeated.

I am now at the airport on my way to Oregon for the Ashland Independent Film Festival where the North American Premier of my film '-1287' is taking place (INFO).  As I think about how the film, documenting the last years of my friend Kazuko's life, is dedicated to her memory, I begin to hear Ishikawa-san's composition at first faintly in the distance, but then growing louder.  The mind works in mysterious ways.

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