Interview about Nijuman no Borei (200 000 Phantoms)



Why did you choose Hiroshima?

My first contact with Hiroshima was a book found in a second hand bookshop. A testimony of a hibakusha (a survivor of the bomb). I was so impressed by what I learn then. It was so awful. That really hurt me. So I started to learn about Hiroshima.

Before that, I only know about Hiroshima a sentence in a history book at school. "At least, Americans dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to stop the war." Why in Occident; we don't really know about those cities and what really happened there? Probably because Japaneses were the "bad" ones. But, how the army that discovered the concentration camps could drop an atomic bomb on civilians some months after is a question impossible to answer?

For me, this movie is more about the memory of Hiroshima, and the lost of this memory, than a movie about the city.


I am very curious about the voice over, recited as a song, and the music you used. What side of 200.000 phantoms gets more importance for you: the audio or the visual one?

I knew this song before going to Hiroshima. I listened it there and I was amazed by the parallel between what I am looking for and the song. This song is about Lazarus asking to someone to remember him, the only way to not disappear forever.

This music is also based on a piano loop. What it was perfect for me because I wanted to make loops around the dome.

For the second question, I don't really know. The both are important. Particularly with this kind of pixilation techniques, music helps the viewer to watch the movie, even if the editing is really fast.


Was it a bigger effort to combine all the images, rather than finding them?

Perhaps the editing, because I had to organize the pictures on two orders: chronologically and spatially, like a puzzle. As I haven't so many pictures (I used all of them), it was complicated.


Do you know how many pictures you have used in 200.000 phantoms? How did you get them all?

I used in between 900 and 1000 pictures. I had to go to Hiroshima to pick them up. I had the chance to work with a Japanese assistant who speak French. We spend hours in archives there, trying to find pictures and the photographers contacts, what is not easy. But a lot of people helped us in the city. It was like a collective research.


What sort of function does it make more sense for you referred to 200.000 phantoms?  (To be shown in the cinemas, to be shown at the museums…)

This movie is for cinema. The best quality for the pictures; so the best quality to see the film, is in 35mm. So I prefer to screen it in theatre.

Moreover, I constructed the movie chronologically, not as a loop. The question of the time is different depending the place of exhibition.


What is the motor of your films? Would you call them "documentary films"?

I use films to think, to try to understand our world. And at least, to ask the audience "why"? Like "why a young occidental filmmaker make a movie about Hiroshima?" or "what is this building, and what is the subject of this movie?". If only one people of the audience make some researches, look for a book on Hiroshima for example, I know that I am not wasting my time to done this movies.

And yes, for me, my movies are documentaries, not like usual ones, but with the heritage of the documentary avant-gardes.


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