Festivals & Events
November 1, 2019
HIFF39 KAU KA HŌKŪ NOMINEE: 5 Questions with Joe Odagiri, director of THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME
After its world premiere in the Venice International Film Festival, THEY SAY NOTHINGS STAYS THE SAME is continuing its successful festival run here in Hawaiʻi with its U.S. premiere.
THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME is the directorial debut of renowned Japanese actor Joe Odagiri, with the help of legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle as well as esteemed Japanese actors Akira Emoto, Masatoshi Nagase, Tadanobu Asano and Yu Aoi.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey as a filmmaker thus far.
After learning method acting in US and Japan, I started my career as an actor in 2000. Since performing the main role of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “BRIGHT FUTURE (a.k.a. JELLYFISH)”, which was selected in the competition of Cannes Film Festival in 2003, I have been acting in various films by world renowned filmmakers, such as Seijun Suzuki’s “PRINCESS RACCOON”(2005), Miwa Nishikawa’s “SWAY”(2006), Kim Kiduk’s “DREAM”(2007), Yu Lik-wai’s “PLASTIC CITY”(2007), Tian Zhuang-zhuang’s “THE WARRIOR AND THE WOLF”(2009), Kang Je-gyu’s “MY WAY”(2011), and Kohei Oguri’s “FOUJITA”(2015) and Lou Ye’s “Saturday Fiction”(2019). My first foray in directing was in 2009, with the middle-length film “LOOKING FOR THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS”, which was selected in Rotterdam Film Festival. “THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME” is his first feature-length film as the director. Earlier this year, I was invited to Venice Film Festival both as an actor (for Lou Ye’s SATURDAY FICTION) and as a director for THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME.
What inspired and motivated you to work on THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME?
First of all, I primarily had a doubt toward the world that is based on capitalism. Capitalism created a competitive society, and I had a feeling that we are living with a sense where convenience is valued most and needlessness is totally unnecessary. Or a feeling that the most important thing is swept away while measuring value by time and money. This brought me great uncertainty and vague discomfort about how I am currently living my life.
There are many things vanishing behind the development of civilization. As the world becomes more convenient, the tradition and beautiful culture becomes unneeded. Nature gets destroyed and we lose something precious. I desired to figure out, what is the true happiness and what is important in life, through the character of a boatman.
What were some of the greatest challenges of working on THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME?
Many of the films nowadays emphasize tempo and speed as well as how exciting the story goes on. For this film, I wanted to resist that idea. With having only a few characters and most of the scenes are only consisted of a boat, river, and hut, not so much happens in the story. It was a big challenge for me to focus rather on the human side than the story itself.
What do you hope audiences will take away from watching THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME?
Our lives these days are rich in material terms, but how about in spiritual terms? I hope this film can be a chance to consider, what is important and what it is to be happy.
What are you and THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME’s plans beyond HIFF?
Both as an actor and director, I would love to be involved in interesting projects.