"Happy Ending"

Directed by Akira Iwamatsu

"Happy Ending" - Best Drama Feature Film
Directed by Akira Iwamatsu

As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.

I have established a filmmaking group, "Mikawa Eiga," to produce independent films in rural areas of Japan. This film is the first installment. The staff are amateurs, and the cast is not a major player, but we are aiming for a quality that is as good as commercial films. Normally, I do video production and photography.

What made you decide to make this film?

I was an elementary school teacher when I made this film. I wanted to become an adult who could tell my students about my own dreams, so I decided to put my dream of producing a feature film into action. I also learned that more than 30,000 people commit suicide every year in Japan, many of them middle-aged people, and I began to think about "What is the purpose of human life?" I decided to make this film out of a desire to give my own answers to these questions.

Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?

Nobuhiko Obayashi (Japan)

David Lynch (USA)

Frank Capra (USA)

I love the worldview of Obayashi's early films, and this film is strongly influenced by that. In Capra's films, the "human conscience" is repeatedly portrayed as too pure. Some may think that what he depicts is unrealistic, but I have a longing for such a "human conscience. Director Lynch is free in his visual expression. He is honest about his inspirations and desires. I share his attitude and hope to do the same in my own filmmaking.

Are you happy with the final result or would you change something?

I was advised by a festival jury that the film was too informative and complex and should be cut shorter to make it easier to understand. Indeed, this is a very difficult film to understand. The genre is drama, not mystery, but there are more mysteries than mysteries. All the answers to those mysteries are depicted in the film, but it may be difficult to grasp them all in a single viewing. Nevertheless, we believe that there is magic in this story that will tug at the heartstrings of the audience, even on first viewing. Since we are making independent films that we are producing with our own money, we should be free to make them in a challenging full way, rather than imitating established ways of doing things.

Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world?

My film production is the same as an independent film production for high school students. All cast and crew members participate in the film production free of charge. The collaborators at the filming location also help us free of charge. If there are any difficulties during the film production, we will solve them not with money, but with human connections, human power, and time. The reason we do not solve problems with money is partly because production costs are scarce, but also because we value the process by which the cast and crew can grow as human beings through filmmaking as much as we value the quality of the film. I hope that through filmmaking, the cast and crew will take on new challenges, break out of their shells, and change into new versions of themselves. I believe that this attitude will be captured on film, and that the audience will be able to feel their enthusiasm through the images.

For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn after making this film?

In my filmmaking, I used to focus on camera work and editing, but through the production of this film, I realized once again the importance of the actors' performances. I also realized that good actors can help directors grow. I think I have taken advantage of these reflections to allow sufficient rehearsal time for my next film, so that I can derive more pleasure from working with the actors.

What did it mean for you, to be awarded in ONYKO FILMS AWARDS, among so many projects?

Our hope is that as many people as possible will see this film. It would be great if the film is selected or wins awards at film festivals so that audiences will have a chance to see it, and it would be great if it gets a distributor and many people will see it.

Akira Iwamatsu