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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Off to Hokkaido, a place I often fantasize and romanticize

While I am writing this, it is already 4am in the morning. At 11:30am, I will be flying off to Sapporo in Hokkaido for the Japanese premiere of LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER in Sapporo Short Fest.

Girl in the snow. A disturbingly familiar image.

This post is supposed to be published automatically while I'm still flying.

I have been staying in Japan for four years, yet Sapporo, or rather, Hokkaido in its entirety, had lost neither of its mystique in my heart. In these four years, I have dreamt of going, had wanted so much to go, yet the air ticket prices were too much, and I didn't dare to imagine what would it be like going there alone.

Because of films like Shunji Iwai's LOVE LETTER or Yasuo Furuhata's POPPOYA (RAILROAD MAN), I have a romanticized image of the place in my heart.

This precious, snow-covered place depicted so beautifully in Japanese films.

How I have wished that I could go there. I had yearned for it so much that I found it frustrating.

Even without the snow, I imagined during the lavender season, a field of lavenders, like a sea of brilliant purper, I wondered what would it smell like.

Every time when I try to write a feature film, I would try to write in some Hokkaido scenes, just so I could find a way to get there and shoot at its wilderness... all wishful thinking. Nothing had ever materialized.

I never got to go to Hokkaido, but I had been to Shirakawa Village when I was 17. The place was so beautiful that it haunted me for a decade. It haunted me not only because of what it was, but also what I thought it could have been. I was there when it was autumn, I loved the place. But then I saw photos of the place in winter, I was utterly bewitched.

Going back to Shirakawa-go to shoot the film last year felt like a dream. It felt so long ago, and it also felt so ephemeral. The images I saw early in the morning were so special that I knew I could ever describe them, and all I could do was to fold them into pieces and keep them in my heart.

Last year, I shot my short LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER here. The film will have its Japanese premiere at Sapporo Film Fest next week, followed by Nara Film Fest.

As I am suffering from the heat of Japanese summer, I yearn madly for the snow.

I find it rather fitting to premiere LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER, a film which is mostly a depiction of a winter that I have yearned for in my mind, at the very place which I had fantasized for half of my life. Let's see how audiences will react. But for now, I just want to see what Sapporo is really like.