Japan’s Tetsuya Tomina is a director preoccupied with presence — a beguiling sense of place or placing actors merely present on display.
His second characteristic, Who Have been We?, which premiered in competitors this week on the Tokyo Worldwide Movie Pageant, is a metaphysical love story that follows a person and a girl — performed by younger stars Nana Komatsu and Ryuhei Matsuda — who discover themselves on the premises of an historic gold mine on Japan’s distant Sado Island with no reminiscence of how they received there or who they’re.
The premise for the movie got here to Tomina as he was ending his debut characteristic Blue Wind Blows (2018), which was additionally shot on Sado Island (and later premiered on the Berlin Worldwide Movie Pageant within the Technology Kplus part). Strolling the island, the director was struck by the sight of a landform often called”Cut up Mountain” in Japanese, a towering cliff cleft in half centuries in the past by the gold mining that passed off beneath it for generations starting within the 1500s.
Sado Island occupies a considerably spooky place within the Japanese public consciousness. In the course of the Edo interval (1603-1868), the ruling Tokugawa shogunate shipped criminals and indigents to Sado Island and compelled them to work the mines — typically to their deaths. The island can also be Japan’s closest landmass to North Korea and it is among the sights the place the Kim regime kidnapped Japanese residents within the late Nineteen Seventies and early 80s. However Tomina stays fixated on the place.
“Once I noticed this cleft mountain, there was one thing about its presence that I used to be actually drawn to,” he remembers. “Throughout my analysis, I began to think about the souls of those that labored within the mines and had been buried in unmarked graves. However despite the fact that the island has a considerably adverse picture, the native individuals are very variety, the meals is scrumptious and the character is so lovely — so I actually wished to spend extra time there.”
“I started to think about the mountain as a spot between this world and the following, the place two characters who handed away may meet,” he explains.
Who Have been We? is shot in wealthy, full-contrast colour, framing its characters and landscapes in a retro 4:3 facet ratio. With only a hint of plot, the movie proceeds at a hypnotic tempo, because the characters discover the mine and its environment, step by step coming to know each other. However their courtship arrives through innate chemistry since neither character has any recollection of who they had been of their prior life.
“Because the story is a bit indifferent from actuality and the characters have a sort of clean psychology, I wanted actors who may persuade the viewers simply by being current,” Tomina explains. “Matsuda and Komatsu had been my first selection and I’m very grateful they stated sure as a result of this was a small manufacturing and they’re huge stars in Japan.”
Komatsu, additionally an in-demand trend mannequin, is greatest identified internationally for her efficiency in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, whereas Matsuda has appeared in dozens of movies however made his profession breakthrough on the age of simply 15 in Nagisa Ōshima’s Taboo (1999).
The director gave his two leads no background for his or her characters apart from the obscure hints of biography which are within the script.
“I don’t like for actors to attract from reminiscence or psychology,” he says. “The best way I wish to shoot my movies is to seize the actors merely as they’re — to solely seize their existence — and that’s the true cause I wrote this story of characters with no reminiscence.”
After taking pictures his first two options on Sado Island, Tomina says he’s in all probability nonetheless not able to let go of the place. Of the 2 tasks he at present has in growth, one is once more set there.