Into View: INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER SEAN MCALLISTER - RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARY
Image: Japan-A-Story-of-Love-and-Hate- Naoki sees his relationship with Yoshie like father and daughter and admits that since losing his. Japan - A Story of Love and Hate BBC (English language)Link is Down (youtube. com) Satoyama Naoki seems like such an intelligent and nice person. are things about their relationship that they needed to figure out. Buy tickets for Japan: A Story Of Love And Hate () - Sean McAllister Dir: Sean McAllister | Starring: Naoki Sato, Yoshie Sato, Sean McAllister| and sleeping pills to get through the week, the pair have a fractious relationship.
I went along with him but never really believed in it. I hated the place and the people that live like that. My work in the Arab world is to spread a positive vibe about Arab people who are so often misunderstood by the media. I felt that my making this film would be falling into the same trap as other foreign film-makers. Did you envisage the strife that is now tearing Syria apart back when you first started spending time in Damascus? Even in March, April, even May Syrians were not asking for Assad to go but to implement the reforms he had promised since when he took office.
Of course the carnage that we see today is the truth of the regime, now hanging the dirty -washing clear for the world to see. The well-groomed-western-educated-eye-doctor image is no more, now al-Assad is open and honest finally to the world, a monster like his father and brother and one hopes should meet the same destiny as Gadaffi.
Then they backed off saying Panorama were doing something, in fact Panorma have done 2 films on Syria in the last year or so, I have been filming this for over 2 years so far… it is a human story that has never been told yet since the Syria conflict began You were detained by the secret police in Syria, an event which was covered by news teams all over the world.
Have you returned to Syria since? I was deported from Syria which means I cannot return, not legally anyhow. I was in north Lebanon the other week up near the border with Syria and was offered safe passage to Homs with a couple of Syrians there. Has your detention and what you witnessed had any lasting effects on your state of mind? Does it haunt you?
I guess it haunts me more than witnessing the massacre in the Yemen film. In prison I was more shaken by the cries of people being beaten and then being befriended by the same guys who were doling out the punishment.
They treated me well but I could not understand or accept the way they treated their own and the unbelievable instruments used in torture, including electricity. I befriended my chief interrogators as a way to protect myself but I never knew what new info they would find on me or whether I was really going to get out until I did, so it made a week a rather long time. I want to do a re-creation of it as a drama but when I sit down to write it something stops me going there.
How are the Syrians you befriended during your time in Damascus? Some of my friends are still in Syria and others now live in Lebanon. The family I am filming now live in Beirut, where they feel lots safer and where I can visit to film them. Are you tempted to go to Homs, where the government are assassinating scores of people as we speak? I was in Homs before I left Syria but this was before it became a blood bath massacred town, it was known as the heartbeat of the revolution when I visited, where the protests where happening in a carnival-like atmosphere daily and nightly.
The government used the idea of foreign fighters in the country as an excuse to make this disgusting attack. Do you think Homs is going to be looked back on in years to come as Srebenica is now?
Well we already have I guess. How long after visiting Yemen did you meet Kais? He met me from the airport, I fell straight into his lap. It felt like the long road that started in Dubai in was finally coming to a close; the journey had meant something.
My films are so fundamentally about character that there can be a revolution anywhere but without Kais or Naoki or Samir or Kev I have no film.
Film series reveals more than just foreign take on Japan | The Japan Times
In Dubai I watched the economy collapse, it was a great story but I had no character through which to tell it. Once the revolution got under way, were all the normal services open? Could you just go to a bank and draw money out for food or did you have to carry cash with you everywhere? ATMs worked OK in Yemen funnily enough but not in Syria, there was a blockade put on all money transfers as part of the western sanctions, so I needed to carry bundles of cash around, which is fine in Arabic dictatorships as they are usually crime free, like Japan!
Reluctant Revolutionary, did you not ask for permission to film in the hospital, did you just walk in? How did you get access? I walked in with Kais, to be honest I hesitated and tried to retreat because I knew what was happening but a doctor pulled me over and asked what network I was. I said BBC, he pulled me in with Kais and took me through the hall and into intensive care where the dead and dying were being dragged, in this situation they want exposure — there is no asking.
- Film series reveals more than just foreign take on Japan
- Review: ‘Japan: A Story of Love and Hate’
- Japan: a story of love and hate
Then as the injured lay dying at first I felt terrible to film them but then I learned that it is what they want in their last moments of life. All the same I found it strange filming the young boy dying and the boy holding the hand of his brother.
Naoki Sato, a part-time post office worker with a Beatles haircut, was that outstanding nail, and how he had been hammered!
A former Maoist revolutionary, he had enthusiastically taken up capitalism in his thirties and owned two companies, a bar and a BMW. Now 56, he lived in a tiny windowless room, his only break from the housework the seven hours a day that he spent collecting insurance premiums for the post office. I suppose you could say that Yoshie sold oral sex.
But she and Naoki no longer talked themselves. All you could guess from her tabula rasa face was that she despised him and you would guess wrong. What was splendid about Naoki was that this instinctive dissident in a congenitally conformist society had an albeit mordant sense of humour. Everywhere he took us, tragedy and comedy jostled for the foreground. Naoki had a friend called Mr Mushroom Man because he obsessively picked wild mushrooms. But Mushroom Man also had his tale.
His brother, crushed by a business culture of bullying, was among the 30, Japanese who kill themselves each year. McAllister, however, had had intimate conversations with both men and saw a chance for them to connect over a shared gift of Viagra.Japāna: mīlas un naida stāsts / Japan: A story of Love and Hate
At first this peace offering looked like a shocking breach of etiquette, but the gesture opened things no end. Suddenly Naoki had a family again. The film produced a true and unexpected insight. Instead of going to Japan to look for answers, the West might credit itself with having worked out, in the past few decades, some of its own.
After living in Japan for two years, McAllister was getting nowhere in his efforts to make a revealing documentary about the country. Depressed and drinking too much the film began with him jogging, out of breath and sweating profusely, delivering a desperate monologue to camerahe had almost given up — until he met Naoki, 56, a part-time postal worker. A thin wall away from homelessness, Naoki lived in what was laughably described as a one-room apartment. In reality it was more like a windowless, strip-lit box.
She worked 15 hours a day in three jobs, the worst being as a hired date for married businessmen. It was sleazy and bleak, and obviously pained her greatly. Returning home from drunken evenings, she would often berate Naoki before falling asleep from a cocktail of booze and sleeping pills. We never even saw them kiss. And yet, rather than wallow in self-pity, Naoki regarded his situation with a kind of hard-won irreverence. Within a society shamed by a shockingly high suicide rate, Naoki refused to be destroyed by his relentlessly unrewarding work-cycle and seemingly hopeless prospects.
It was this, plus the affectionate interplay between McAllister and Naoki, that gave the film its heart. Naoki used to have everything — his own business, a six-bedroom house and a flashy car — but lost it all in the crash of the early Nineties. Divorced three times, he now lives with his girlfriend, year-old Yoshie, who works 15 hours a day to support him.
Her three jobs include evening work in a sleazy bar where she is paid to flirt with and flatter rich, married men. In another scene, Naoki and McAllister visit the home of one Mr. Mushroom Man whose brother committed suicide due to the pressures of Japanese work.
Mushroom Man also lives in a nice house that appears upper middle class. The film does accurately portray the Japanese workplace. As is typical in Japan, Naoki finds it almost impossible to re-enter the workforce in his 50s in anything other than a bottom-rung position. Every day begins with radio calisthenics which McAllister fails to point out began during World War II when the government told the public that doing the calisthenics daily would somehow stave off hunger pangs.
Overall, the film suffers from presenting a rare case as typical. If McAllister had interviewed a hundred people like Naoki, the film could be given more credence. One could go to any rich country and find an unpleasant person who made a lot of bad choices and is now living with their mistakes. He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years.
He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.