Q & A

11 5th, 2010

At our Kyoto Sneak Preview and Fundraising Event,  we tried out a new participatory technology called Pigeonhole which allows people to use their smart phones to post questions anonymously to the system which was then displayed on a screen at the event.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time as there were more questions asked directly from the audience than we expected, so we are posting some of the answers to questions that we couldn’t get to on pigeonhole.

We have narrowed down the questions based on whether they specifically addressed the film and its content. We also believe some of these questions were original were posted on pigeonhole were answered throughout our presentation.

1. Will the film address misconceptions of racial / genetic purity of Japanese among non-hafu Japanese?

The film is told through the perspectives of the interviewees. As of right now,  we are not intending to have a third voice (ie. the voice of narrator or “God”) in the film, so whether this will subject directly addressed largely depends on whether the people in the film share and hold this opinion.

Megumi: I personally believe that the subject of “misconceptions of racial / genetic purity of Japanese “ is very interesting and important subject and should be explored more thoroughly in Japanese media. If it is to be included in our film, it will be included as background information not as a major thread of the film.

2. Why did you decide to the call the film “half” when there is a tendency to avoid it in Japan?

As of right now, the title is “hafu” and not “half”, and it is actually a working title. When we started the idea to make this film, we just wanted to get started and not dwell too much on the title. Particularly with documentary films, film titles are usually one of the last decisions made because the feel, the intention, the message of the film may change in the process of making it. We hope that the final title we choose will reflect the film appropriately at the end of this process but it also could end up being “Hafu.”  For now, “Hafu Film” is quick, easy to remember, and you know what the movie is about.

Megumi: I think however the greater question here is people’s views on the term. Personally, for me I have lived with this term for 30 years and have never felt negatively discriminated by being called a “hafu”. Yes, it is a label and yes it does separate us from full-Japanese people but then so would the term “double.” I much rather prefer to be called a “hafu” than a “gaijin” and I feel that is truly my greater battle–to be recognized as even half-Japanese rather than as a complete foreigner. I have also found that many other half-Japanese people do not have a problem with the term either. Either way it’s good to have a conversation around this subject but I feel that there are varying opinions on it and no body should be condemned for being called what they ultimately want to be called.

Lara: To piggy back on Megumi- From my perspective, the word hafu is not meant or used in a discriminatory way in Japan. It is just the word Japanese use to label people of who are half-Japanese. There is also the word Kuo-ta- to address people who have one grandparent who is non Japanese or the other way around (one Japanese grandparent). There is a tendency to label, but this happens everywhere else in the world as well. In Japan, the word does not convey the same energy as English meaning of “half.” I do not consider myself as a half person, and of course that would be insulting as I have grown up within 2 great cultures. But I do consider myself a hafu and would like to be recognized as one, since it seems that in the majority of cases with Japanese people I am only recognized as a foreigner, who speaks with amazing natural Japanese and eats with chopsticks.

3. In what ways can this audience – us – help, over the long run, the Hafu Project?

Our biggest obstacle at this point is having the sufficient funds to cover the expenses of the production. We are making this film completely independently and have largely used the money out of our pockets to cover the costs of travel and equipment.  We both have full time jobs, and so this film is made as a labor of love in our free time. We also have been doing fundraising/preview events such as this one in Kyoto because we believe that there is a greater community out there who is interested in supporting the film. We are offering people the opportunity to gain credits in the film at different donation levels as well.   You can make a donation here.
If you have some free time, we always need the support of volunteers. We need help with transcribing, translating, event organizing and helping us to find sponsors. If you are interested in volunteering please write to us at info@hafufilm.com.
We also greatly appreciate if you can spread the word about us. Talk with your friends and family about the film. Join us on facebook, twitter, read our newsletter of follow our activities on this blog.

Lara: In the long-term, if we people have contacts to people within the media industry and can help increase exposure or introduce us to Television distributors that would help us reach our highest goal of getting this aired on Television in Japan and abroad.

4. What are your strategies to get the majority Japanese audience interested in the film?

Megumi: I think this is a fantastic question and I am very interested in hearing other people’s suggestion as well.  Our number one goal is to have this air on television in Japan. If we are able to sell this film to NHK or another prominent channel, we will naturally have a large audience. There will be press around the film and discussions around the kitchen table. Perhaps, we may at some point attract the interest of a major Japanese Hafu tarento who can help us to spread the word about this film.
Beyond that we would like to be able to tour the film in Japan and do community screenings as much as within our means. We also think it would be great to have this film screened to Japanese communities living outside of Japan and to world audiences to give them a fresh perspective on Japan.

5. What is your hopeful intention of making this film?

Lara: I want to show the world how Japan is changing and that Japan is not a homogeneous country as some conservative people may still believe it to be. Even though Japan is a “shimaguni” (Island) we live in an era of globalization, where people travel and cultures mix. Tokyo is a metropolis that is in the same lines as New York, London, Paris, etc. globalization is inevitable. And so, this mindset has to change as well. I want to show one of the other faces of Japan.

Megumi: For me, there are a million reasons why I wanted to make this film and what my intentions are with it. Firstly, I feel like there is a lack of stories about half-Japanese people in the current media of Japan. What is shown is very superficial, so I wanted to share with a larger audience about what it’s like to live day-to-day as hafu in Japan.  Secondly, I believe that many of us half-Japanese people believe that we are Japanese but have to fight on daily basis to be recognized as so. We are constantly asked where are we from, why do we speak Japanese so well, or if we are married to Japanese partner etc. I want to live in Japan where it’s attarimae (translation: duh!) that people like me or David are Japanese. We are the newly emerging community and the next generation of Japanese. This film is my personal declaration of this.