8th DMZ Docs(2016)
I AM DOCU
While reciting her masterpiece picture-book The Cat That Lived a Million Times, people talk about their views of life and death. On the other hand, Sano is slowly heading to the death. The camera captures both Sano and the people talk about their lives. The only connection between them is the book. The film also tries to capture the shadow of ‘death’ and even new ‘life’ in scenes of Tokyo, Kita Karuizawa, and Beijing; Places where Sano has lived in her life.
“A million people cried when that cat died. But the cat never cried. Not once.” A year before Sano Yoko dies of cancer, she begins her interview on condition of no face exposure. When she was young, her older brother with a good painting skill died, she believed that everyone has a destination.
“I have nothing to cling onto in my life. I don’t think living is such a good thing. We don’t choose to be born. And life is hard in most parts. So, I don’t think living is all that good.” One realizes the book’s meaning that there is no eternal life, one reads this book to her daughter to explain one’s death ahead and one hurts oneself to live, they all love this book for different reasons. A cat was owned by a king, a sailor, a magician and a young girl, but always hated them. One day, finally, the cat becomes the cat himself and meets a cat with white hair.
“In midst of my family slowly breaking up, I had created a picture book. It was a simple story about a cat that meets another cat, has a family, and dies. This simple story called, The Cat that Lived a Million Lives, I thought this meant that people desired these primitive things in life. And I felt that I was the one who desired these things more than anyone.”
“One day the white cat lay down quietly beside him, and stopped moving, for the first time, the alley cat cried.”
In May 2015, Sano Yoko ended her life at her 72. Just like the cat that lived a million lives met a cat with white hair and never came back alive, did she meet people she loved, too? [Lee Jung-eun]
The Legacy of Frida Kahlo (2015)The Cat That Lived a Million Times (2012)Line (2008)Good Girl (2006)Lullaby (2002) In 2008, Yoko Sano, a picture novelist, announced in her autobiography that she got cancer. When I read it I was seized with the impulse to meet with her. “I let you make a film about me if my image will not appear on.” was her word when I first visited her. About one year has passed since then and I have done nothing but broken myself into pieces in front of “simple” Yoko. Looking back and thinking, I didn’t pity her nor wanted to encourage her to fight against cancer∙∙∙. I just wanted to break my fixed ideas. There has been a tendency that people consider death as a negative thing, though I’d rather oppose it. Having said that, I might have admitted that death is negative. Yoko has broken ‘myths’ based on Japanese humanism or social justice after the war by creating picture novels about life-after-death of her young brothers, father and mother with whom relationship was difficult. Meeting with such a person for a year has made me confused and felt myself being broken. After the destruction, the next step is regeneration. One of Yoko’s famous novels “The cat with a million lives” was published in 1977 and I was born in this year. My mother used to read it for me. The story about death and life of the cat was very scaring to me. It clearly showed that every living thing will die. I visited various people to collect their life-after-death stories along with interviewing Yoko. A person who suffers from Gender Identity Disorder, a woman had a stillborn baby, a girl doesn’t know who are her parents, a woman visiting her uncle who suffers from cancer, a woman receiving artificial insemination therapy many times, wife of an artist who has been in a coma and widow and her children living in the house with pictures of her late husband everywhere and etc. Through talking with these people, I collected the life-after-death to shoot this film. This film is the process of the destruction and reproduction of a movie director through the picture novelist Yoko Sano and her readers.
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