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Kyoshi Sugita

Kyoshi Sugita
Four Japanese women: the first reads cards for a colleague who would like to get back in touch with a former heartthrob; the second one, barely an adult, is courted by older men but is too shy to share her feelings to the young man who works with her; the third goes travelling in her father’s footsteps and meets a man who will agree to be her guide; the fourth is shocked to see a former lover suddenly reappear. As in Haruhara-san’s Recorder (FID 2021 Grand Prize of the International Competition), feelings are carried by everyday rythms and are born from what is left unsaid. In this earlier masterwork by Kyoshi Sugita, situations, names, and settings rime fleetingly and echo each other to draw an emotional network of missed opportunities and feelings misunderstood or at long last revealed. (Nathan Letoré)

Interview with Kyoshi

Listen to light is based on four stories. How did those stories, and how did the film as a whole, originate ?

The four stories are based on four tanka. Tanka is an old japanese form of short poem. These tanka were selected from 1200 works, written for a contest on the theme of light. Light, of course, exists with sound as one of the elements of cinema itself. Based on this theme, I turned towards the idea of capturing the figure of four women in their lives.

Each of these four stories follows a woman in her interactions with a man. What role did the actors and actresses have in elaborating the characters ?

When I start preparing for a film, I start with the people who will appear in the film. Since I write the script only after having done that, I write it with those people in mind. It’s the same with the settings. As the film is born from me thinking of what it will be like, with those people in those settings, the fascination that they originally have for me is everything in the film.

Although the four stories are separate, characters from one sometimes appear fleetingly in another. Why did you want this interconnected structure, rather than completely separate stories ?

When I was making the film, I sometimes felt that I was using the power of cinema to discreetly follow and shoot people that I accidentally ran into in the streets and liked. I feel like anyone could be the film’s main character. As the feeling was that I had set up my camera next to people who live in the same world and who happen to pass by each other, it felt natural to have one part’s main character reappear in the film in another part.

Along with a female character, each section is also based on a particular form of art : painting, music, photography, literature. Why did you want to give art such an important place in the film ?

I think that all art forms, whatever they are, face the same questions, such as what this universe is, what our life is. I just think that they differ in the practical approach they take to facing them. So it’s very natural for me that in a film that asks these questions, other art forms would appear.

Interview by Nathan Letoré

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Technical sheet

Japan / 2017 / 153’

Original version : japan
Subtitles : english
Script : Kyoshi Sugita
Photography : Yukiko Iioka
Editing : Keiko Okawa
Music : Skank
Sound : Youngchang Hwang
With : Misaki Kitamura, Kana Ito, Tomo Kasajima, Akie Namiki
Production : Jun Higeno (IHA Films)
Filmography : Haruhara-san’s recorder, 2021
A Song I Remember, 2011