Kohei Sengen is a Japanese director and screenwriter. Soon after graduating from Tisch College of the Art in New York in 1995, he began creating independent motion pictures such as “No One particular Can Draw My Picture” (2019), largely shot in 8mm. In his writings and projects, he mostly focused on themes such as the passing of youth and the ideas of time and location. In addition to his activities as a director, he is also one particular of the organizers for The Seventh Poetry Society, a group of independent filmmakers.
In 2021, he directed his initially function film titled “Song of a Dying Summer”, which had it planet premiere at Nippon Connection 2022.
On the occasion of his film getting screened for the initially time at a film festival, Kohei Sengen talks about the themes of “Song of a Dying Summer”, shooting in 8mm as effectively as the which means of the areas in the function.
The title of your initially function film derives from a poem by a Japanese writer. Could you maybe elaborate on the poem and its connection to “Song of a Dying Summer”?
The title of my film is also the title of a poem by Chuya Nakahara, a poet who lived from 1907 to 1925. It is a really obscure text and not uncomplicated to realize, but its underlying theme has to do with the passing of the seasons and as a result the passing of life in basic. Because these ideas connected effectively to the story I was writing, I chose it as a title, but also simply because I like Nakahara’s writings really significantly.
Because your film, thematically and aesthetically, touches upon that concept, what do you feel about the partnership of film, poetry and time?
When it comes to my projects, I have a tendency to aim for a additional poetic strategy aesthetically. My viewer must really feel initially and then realize, following the logic of poetry. Secondly, if you want to speak about ideas such as the fleeting high-quality of life, I really feel poetry, or a poetic strategy is significantly additional appropriate to deal with these themes.
The key characters in “Song of a Dying Summer” are named Natsu, Aki, Fuyu and Haru. Is there a deeper which means behind the reality these are also the Japanese names for the 4 seasons?
For these who are familiar with the building of haiku, you will surely know there is also the rule, every single one particular must involve words or phrases addressing the seasons. Offered the poetic nature of the project, as we just discussed, I wanted to show how the altering and passing of every single season mirrors the characters and their partnership with every single other.
Can you say some thing about your collaboration with your DP Kazutaka Ito and your selection to shoot the function in 8mm?
I have been functioning with 8mm films for quite a few years now, but when I met Kazutaka for the initially time, he was not actually fond of the concept to shoot with this sort of film. (laughs) There is also a technical difficulty with this sort of format, as it does not let camera movement, because the shot becomes blurry when it is converted into digital.
Even so, we had lots of talks about the appear of the function and sooner or later decided on a method, which, I will have to say, I am rather happy with.
In addition to time, space also appears to have a distinct which means for the story of “Song of a Dying Summer”, as quite a few of the areas, such as the railway, come up rather a lot. Could you clarify the which means behind this?
Thanks for bringing that up.
In a classic Noh stage, there is a bridge named hashigakari, which symbolizes the connection involving life and the hereafter, the inner and the outer planet. The railway, which is a repeating image in the film, functions similarly. It appears as if the characters are crossing more than, or traveling involving these two worlds.
Because “Song of a Dying Summer” had it planet premiere at Nippon Connection, what was it like experiencing your function for the initially time with a film audience?
Initial, I feel I have to apologize to Nippon Connection simply because I misunderstood the notion of an international versus a planet premiere. (laughs)
But coming back to your query, it was actually good to see the film for the initially time with an audience, and I felt actually honored.
At that and the second screening some days later, “Song of a Dying Summer” was accompanied by a screening of Chiemi Shimada’s brief “Colwood Gardens”. Was that your selection, and what do you feel about the hyperlink involving this film and yours?
It was not my selection, but nonetheless there are some fascinating similarities. Shimada’s brief was not shot in 8mm, I feel it was 16mm, but is really artistic, affectionate and individual. I rather like it and I do not thoughts it getting screened just before my film.
What do you feel about the Japanese film business at the moment?
To be sincere, I am not so certain if we can nevertheless speak about a Japanese film business any longer, for quite a few motives. The most crucial one particular is maybe is that the people today financing new options have practically no clue about cinema as an art kind and just care about creating additional dollars. Secondly, most of the people today functioning on these productions are functioning as freelancers, which brings us to the third cause, which is how the business has been dissolving thanks to video platforms such as YouTube and other folks, and people today creating their operates rather for these platforms or media.
Do you currently have plans for your subsequent projects?
My themes have usually been the identical and will not modify: youth and its impermanence. My subsequent projects will also tackle these ideas, as they have usually held a specific fascination for me.
Thank you for the fascinating conversation.