Collaborator: Hiroko Inoue
Editor & co-author: Gregor Bartsch
Sound design & mixing: Jonathan Schorr
Colour: Till Beckmann
Production director: Caroline Kirberg
Commissioning editor: Doris Hepp (ARTE).
DOK Leipzig, Duisburger Filmwoche, Blicke-Filmfestival des Ruhrgebiets
For 30 years, Uwe has lived with his wife in the mountains of Miyama north of Kyoto. A German shakuhachi player in the diaspora, local and outsider. Everyday life unfolds between rice cultivation and Ruhr speak. The sounds of the flute swirl in the moment, past pushes into the foreground. What will happen tomorrow? Where will one be buried? A fresco of growing and passing.
The small town of Miyama, fifty kilometres from Kyoto, is visited by flocks of tourists attracted by its traditional houses. But however special it may be as a town, its inhabitants' work must go on. The rice fields need preparing and sowing, the animals need feeding and slaughtering, people have to go hunting and fishing, clearing and fencing the fields, to cut trees down in the forest. Under the overcast sky, everything is verdant and fertile, but it takes work. Is this life all work? There is also time to learn to play traditional instruments, to eat and drink with others after practising. This is how it's been for generations. Work and leisure are repeated as life follows its course. "As I'm Japanese", says one of the residents, "When I die I expect to disappear", as she recalls the annual cycle of the cherry blossom. So we accompany the inhabitants of Miyama in this series of almost folkloric scenes that illustrate the daily cycles, until we realise that, at some unknown point in the film, in some cut between sequences, we've started to subtly realise that its charm lies in the cyclical rather than the dramatic. We see the process of things without wanting to know where they are heading; a new disposition towards the film grows up in us.
There is also a westerner living in Miyama, Uwe, a German who has been in Japan for thirty years. The first sign we see of his enthusiasm for the country is that he is a capable player of the shakuhachi, the Japanese traditional flute. The way he throws himself into everything he does has a curious effect: at once integrated and foreign in this small place, Uwe appears to be the bearer of the awareness that's needed for everything to carry on flowing without interruption. And yet, a fundamental, universal rule says that the only thing that is forever is change. This comes along as gently as the passing of the days. It's through Uwe that we learn once again that change is the flip side of constancy, that insisting on the same has new consequences of its own and where there is no variation there is paralysis. A whole series of mysteries that we must explore in the same spirit.
Bárbara Mingo Costales