The beginning of this project was when I bought a book in a second-hand bookshop. I was buying some books about the World War II when I discovered it. This book is Hiroshima, Summer Flower by Tamiki Hara. It bought it by chance, but it moved me. It's a testimony of a Hiroshima Hibakusha. When I read this book, I discovered the reality of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and what happened after those bombings. I was moved also by the fact that until this reading I didn't know about that. In France, in the Western world, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki only mean the end of the World War II. In school, we just learn that there were the bombings, then there were an amazing numbers of deaths, then the Japan resigned and then the World War II was over. But we don't know what really happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We don't know about the atomic diseases, about the sufferings and the pains caused by the bombs. After the reading of this book, I started extensive researches about Hiroshima because I needed to understand and to go deeply into this topic. Perhaps I finally decided to make a movie after I view an American archive movie. In this film, done just after the bombing, a young soldier showed to the audience the destruction of the city. He did it by gestures, as the film was mute. In a sequence, he was on a bridge. There was a white shadow on the ground. The young soldier put his feet in two places of that shadow. Then we could discover that this shadow was a human shadow, the shadow of a human being who disappeared. I decided to make a movie because of this disappearance. Later, as I watched pictures of the city, I discovered the A-Bomb Dome. I decided to make a movie about it as the Dome allowed me to talk poetically, metaphorically about the bombing and about the lack of memory of it.

The production of this film was quite usual. I first wrote the script, which was finally closed to the film itself. We looked for money to make the movie with a production company. At the beginning, it was not so easy! We spent two years to find the first funds… The first reason was simply because this film was unusual. So the script also was. As the movie itself, the script was poetic and metaphorical. That is rarely except for a documentary. The last reason was probably there were a lot of hypothesis in the project… I hadn't the picture; I didn't know the place... A lot of aspects of the project were unknown and the commissioners like to be completely confident. When we finally found a first fund from the Contemporary Art field, we were then sure that I will be able to come to Hiroshima. That helped us to find the money we still need. Finally, we found a usual amount of money for the production of a short movie. I spent one year to make the movie, including a seven weeks residency in Hiroshima. There I worked with a Japanese assistant, bilingual French-Japanese. She helped me for the meetings I had with institutions, or photographers, to pick up the pictures I needed. Myself, I took a lot of pictures of the Dome for the last part of the movie.

The idea of the accumulation of photos of the Dome was there since the writing of the script. I wanted to continue a research of animation of photographic archives I already began in my previous works. I didn't know how many pictures I will find. As the Dome was the symbol of the city, since it was constructed, I supposed that I would be able to find many pictures of it. I hopped to be able to find enough picture to make a chronological and spatial editing with them with an animation technique. I wished to edit the pictures from the oldest ones to the contemporary ones and to edit them spatially to recreate some kinds of camera movements. But I couldn't imagine then the ways I will use finally organize the pictures in the frame. I didn't thing about the fact the pictures will be sometimes smaller than the frame of the film. So, I had to place the pictures more on the left, or more on the right, up or down… The Dome was not always in the middle of the photos I found in the Hiroshima archives. So, as I wanted to always present the Dome in the middle of the frame, I had to move the pictures until the Dome was in the center. What was a constraint for the editing became a quality. This way of presenting the pictures allows one to see in the same moment different layers of the time. This technique creates a feeling, a sensation, impossible to set up with another kind of technique.

As I am the director of the movie, I can't say myself what is important or not in it. When I make a movie, I only hope one thing: to succeed to pass on the questions I have to the audience. If I succeed, the film deserves to be done. It is no more than this. So, for this film, if people (in Europe, in the States or everywhere outside Japan), ask themselves about Hiroshima, about what really happened there or ask themselves why me, an European, make this movie, I could have the feeling that I didn't make this movie pointlessly.

The most pleasant part of the work on this film was to spend times in Hiroshima. It is not so comfortable to stay seven weeks in such tragic and painfully place as Hiroshima. Sometimes, I lived some strong, but hard, moments. But, anyway, to be there, in this city, was exceptional. I really appreciated to stay in this country where I was a stranger but where I was not a tourist or a traveler. I had an everyday life rhythm, I had to weak up to go and work, to have meetings, to take pictures and so on… A real everyday-life. This way to live the city gave me a really comfortable mood to make this movie. I couldn't understand what is Hiroshima if I didn't stay so long and with this "regular" life in the city. The worst part of this filmmaking is also linked to Hiroshima. I had complicated dialogs with some institutions of the city. Some of the city or the prefecture institutions really helped me, doing all they could to give pictures. But some others institutions rejected my demands. That was really hard for me because then I realized that there are some topics impossible to talk about, impossible to share. We didn't use the same words, we didn't understand each other. There are obvious cultural differences between Europeans and Japanese. Those differences are regular, normal. But as I was Occidental, some institutions refused to give me the pictures they have, even if those pictures were made as testimonies of what happened in Hiroshima. It was hard for me that those institutions were not confident in my project. According to my own point of view, we all do the same job, even if we do it differently, we all work for the memory of Hiroshima. And that should be enough to make us confident.

What is it to make movies? For a filmmaker it's not an easy question. A part of the answer is obviously irrational, personal, unconscious… Perhaps, making movies is for me mainly a means to constrain me to work. When I chose a topic, when I have an idea, when I want to make a movie, I have to do deep researches. That gives me a lot of work. Without those film projects, I won't have to read so much books, to see so many movies, to go so deep in historical researches. So, to make movies means working. And in the same time, movies are a means to share the knowledge or the questionings I came across during the researches. For me a movie is not a place to bring answers, but a place to question. It's my personal point of view; others movies exist that bring answers and we need them. For example, we need movies that tell concretely what happened in Hiroshima. But myself, as filmmaker, is not is this way I work. I use films as a means to work and a means to question.

Our societies, more precisely movies or art audiences, need films for two reasons. First we need poetry. We need stories. Because we need to escape from the everyday life and we need to see the reality differently. Art works bring us in the world of someone else than ourselves, they allow us to see the world by the eyes of the artists. To see differently the world we leave in could help us to understand it, to learn new things. We need also to be linked each other, to be together, to share. Art allows people of the audience to share a moment all together. If we need poetry, we also need political movies. I don't use this word with the meaning of "militant", "engaged"… But art could be political because it allows to ask questions that concerned all of us as human beings. Art is a space where people who make the artworks, peoples represented in those artworks and the audiences could be linked. It is a space to question, to make clear what is wrong, where some things that are not felt as problematic if the real life could appear problematic. So it is a place of political questionings. For me, we need cinema in the same time for its poetical and political powers. And we need this poetry and this politics differently as TV or commercial cinema deal with usually. We need intelligence, and cinema could be a place for intelligence.

For me there are few differences between short and feature films. The most important for me is that a film, regarding its topics and the way they are questioned, have the right timing. For example, there is no need for my own movie Nijuman no borei to be longer. It couldn't be a feature film. There is no necessity for it to be longer. Also, for me, a film is a film whatever it length. The most important is that its length was the good one. The differences between short and feature films are more financial. To do a short movie is cheaper to produce, so there is more liberty to make it. A feature film, even a cheaper one, is really expensive. Many partners have to be involved in the production, and those partners need to be sure of the project. Except for international well-known filmmakers, there are few liberties in the production of feature films. The need for money could shrink the liberty of creation of the filmmakers. To produce short movies is to be poor; but it's also to have a maximum of liberties.

As for the music, one of the advantages of the cinema is to have a very wide audience. That is not true for other forms of arts as theatre, traditional arts, contemporary arts… that are more "elitist". Everybody watches films or listens music. Even if one never goes to cinema, he could see films in TV, on DVD, on Internet… The audience for movies is really wide. When a filmmaker does a movie, potentially, he could talk to everybody. When one works on a theater play, he could only talk to the ones, the few ones, who could go to theater. Moreover, as audiences are used to see many different kinds of movies, it is easier to bring this audience to go and see more "sophisticated" or "intellectual" movies. Even a movie as my own film, that is not "classical" but poetical, could interest people of the audience. As the audience could already see different kind of films, even on TV with the music video for example, it is possible to offer them unusual movies they could enjoy.


for Con-Can festival