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Hikari (Misako Renbutsu) lost her boyfriend after a random killing that took place in Akihabara. Afterwards, Hikari feels a great sense of loss and shuts herself off from the world. She doesn't leave her home. Finally, with the help of those around her, Hikari is able to regain stability in her life bit by bit. She then goes to Akihabara and roams around. Meeting people there, who are going through their own difficult situations, Hikari is able to begin moving her life forwards.
Q&A for "River" took place at the 2012 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival on July 25, 2012. Appearing as speakers are supporting actress Nahana (left) and director Ryuichi Hiroki (right). AsianWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - Thank you for staying after the movie. Filming for "River" took place from March 27, 2011; a few weeks after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami occurred. The shooting took a total of 6 days. At first, when I planned for this movie, I had the subject of the film centered on the Akihabara random attacker incident. But, before the filming began, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami occurred. I then retouched the script to also add content about the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. As you can see, the movie deals with a shocking case. In the preliminary stages, me and the staff worried whether it was appropriate to deal with the Akihabara massacre or not. But, ultimately, I feel it was a good decision to make the movie, because I think we were able to reflect the emotions from that tragedy well.
- Nahana (actress) - Nice to meet you, I am Nahana. I play the maid who works with main character Hikari in the Akihabara maid cafe in Akihabara. (Speaks in Korean) I hoped you enjoyed the movie.
- Audience Question - The opening sequence seems to be one long 10-minute take. You also used one takes in many other scenes. I'm curious to know the reasons why you worked like that and, also, were there any difficulties in filming in Akihabara.
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - Before the filming, we thought it might be difficult to shoot in Akihabara, but, unexpectedly, it turned out to be quite comfortable to shoot there. The passersby on the street were practically indifferent to our filming. We didn't plan to shoot things in one take. After rehearsals with the actors, we walked together out on the streets of Akihabara. In the film, all the people you see in the film are regular people going about their business. If the movie was a larger budget film, extras would act as passersby, but in this film, they are all actual real passersby. I felt the one shot takes were interesting and fun to do, so that’s why I filmed it that way.
- Audience Question - I’m a fan of lead actress Misako Renbutsu. Can you tell us how you came to cast her in your movie?
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - I didn't try to cast Misako Renbutsu originally. We actually cast her after I finished the script. When I met her for first time, she looked quite natural. I didn't watch her prior films, but I felt she would be natural on the streets of Akihabara. That’s primarily why I picked her for the movie. After working with her, I think she is a talented actress.
- Audience Question - I’m a fan of Nahana. I think you looked cute in the maid outfit. I would like to know about your acting experience in the film and your own perspective of the film?
- Nahana (actress) - Before filming, me, Yukichi Kobayashi and other staff members went to maid cafes to get a firsthand experience. The director didn't go. At the maid cafe, I listened to many stories from maids who worked at the cafe and asked questions about their jobs. I also worked as a maid for several hours. What interested me the most was asking the maids about their dreams. Most of the women told me that their dream was to work as maid and they worked hard to achieve their dream. Before my experience working at the maid cafe, I thought the Akhibara subculture, with things like maid cafes, were different from mainstream society, but after my experience working there, I think they’re not different from the rest of us.
- Audience Question - You originally planned to make a movie about the Akihabara massacre, but after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, the movie changed into a different direction. Do you plan to make a movie solely on the Akihabara massacre?
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - I am interested in many things, so this will likely be the only film I make about the Akihabara massacre. The film does deal with two different incidents, the Akihabara massacre and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, and I think those two incidents are contrasted well in the movie and at the same time there are two eyes in the movie. I'm very interested in how the audience perceives my movie.
- Audience Question - When you came to Bucheon in the past, I asked you about your past films. Some of your movies are are lyrical and have a healing quality, but you also debuted in the pink film genre and also made many films about S&M. When can we see another pink movie or S&M movie from you?
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - I think people have two sides. I also think of pink movies as healing movies, at least to me. S&M movies are sometimes considered to deal with love and not simple violence. So to me, I do the same work.
- Audience Question - In the movie, you often filmed the back of people and, when Hikari walks on the streets of Akihabara, the people there dress in achromatic-colored clothes, but Hikari wears her bright orange coat. From that, I felt she couldn’t mix with the Akihabara people. I know you shot the film with random passersby in the background and not hired extras. Did you intend to have this dichotomy of colors or was it just a coincidence?
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - People in Akihabara are interested about electronics and games, but not really fashion. I didn't notice what you talked about. Akihabara is a shopping area, but not an area where people dress up when they go there. I like Akihabra more because of that. Have you guys ever been in Akihabara?
- (many audience members raise their hands).
- Moderator - Time for the Q&A has ended. Could the speakers say some final words to the audience?
- Ryuichi Hiroki (director) - Thank you for staying here for the Q&A. It might not be necessary, but I will stay afterwards and sign autographs.
- Nahana (actress) - Thank you. I like Korean movies. This is the first time for me to attend a film festival in Korea. I am really happy. I would like to act in a Korean movie in the future.
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