1

 

(Julia Kovalenko --> Maxim Seleznyov)

Hello, Maxim!

 

To be honest, I have very few impressions left after the past film festival. There were a lot entertainment movies which were very similar to one filmed in a rather timeserving manner or for commercial reasons. Additionally, as often occurs at film festivals, there were a lot of overly loud events. Noe’s Love was completely sold out, where Darren Aronofsky has barely waded through. Miroslav Slaboshpitsky cynically boasted that he didn’t see any Ukrainian cinema except his own… At the end of the day, the only things that left a truly warm impression were the amazingly delicate and sensitive My mother by Nanni Moretti (I wish I had enough time to write about it!), the screening of restored Lumiere films, and, of course, a long-awaited meeting with friends.

By the way, during the screening of Lumiere’s films I was thinking that one of the most magical of their movies was Demolition of a Wall. You know, just because of the reverse footage, unsophisticated viewers saw the ruins turning into an unbroken wall in less than a minute. This is perhaps where the cinema shows its most wonderful ability – to piece together time, to overcome any boundaries and borders, to poke a little fun at laws and the natural order of things. After all, cinema is able to create whole universes – and this does not necessarily require over-the-top special effects or awesome equipment. You need just one camera and free imagination – and the screen becomes a place where you can live completely according to your own rules.

But I would like to share with you what has most impressed me in recent months – a Japanese director Shin’ichi Miyakawa. He lives and films in Tokyo. To date, his filmography includes only 4 movies, and the longest of them (The Lake) lasts 45 minutes. His cinema is very intimate and almost diaristic. At the same time Miyakawa’s films are full of Lumiere’s charm in the sense of simplicity and inventiveness. These films are uncrowded – the director's family and loved ones are almost the only people appearing in his shots. But everyone of Miyakawa’s little films becomes a part of the world in which it’s possible, at any moment, to bring to life or even to imagine recollections, to reconcile the past and the present, where it’s possible to be reborn, to be friends with some distant stranger, and to confess your love in the most refined and elegant way. For all that Miyakawa needs only his camera and a few rolls of 8mm film. And while he shoots in this disappearing film format, Miyakawa does not immerse himself in nostalgia, but, in independence from anyone or anything, lives in his own universe. In his youth, as Miyakawa shared with us, film stocks became for him a kind of entry into the world of cinema – the movies that most impressed him were shot and screened on 8mm film, and his first personal camera was Super 8. This format crystallizes a lot of memories, and its gradual disappearance, with each passing day, stands for the very flow of time. In this sense it does not matter at all that the movies shot by Miyakawa with 8mm film have less and less chance of getting to cinema screens or to festivals, or that even neighbors laugh at this old-fashioned director, thinking he’s rather eccentric or a weirdo. In the cinema in which Miyakawa lives, film itself joins together time and places – just as well as does the reverse footage in Lumiere’s film.

If Miyakawa’s films might interest you, let’s talk about them. I don’t think these movies could be brought under in some univocal summary; they are much broader and diverse. I’d be happy to know what you think about them. Perhaps, we could even write a joint text about Miyakawa.

 

 

2

 

(Maxim Seleznyov --> Julia Kovalenko)

Hello, Julia!

 

If you only knew how glad I am to have been introduced to Shin'ichi's films through your letters. Along with Henri Storck's shorts they became for me the most important cinema-discoveries of the last year… Yes, discoveries. In some distant, forgotten sense of this word. Something like a discovery of the North Pole or catching sight of a peculiar sky condition overhead, as it happens, by the way, in Storck's films, when film quality allows us to see famous paintings anew, as if it were the moment of their birth. Miyakawa's lake scene has a similar effect on me - breathtaking. There are many micro-ideas spinning inside my head, and there are many penciled notes already laying on my table, but I'm not sure whether it is possible to achieve an adequate description of what I just saw in Miyakawa's movies.

As you know, I am a great admirer of the Philippine cinema. And for the last year I've quite often thought of the love letter that Alexis Tioseco wrote to Nica Bohinc, having connected in the same words both his passion for Philippine movies and his relationship with Nica. All that time I could not let go of this wild inkling. What if there is a veiled connection between the nature of a cinema and a genre of love letters? Occasionally, I compare various epistolary stories with this hypothesis, but there's nothing definite so far. Therefore the narration strategy in «The Lake», of course, couldn't help but attract my attention. Cautiously cut garlands of messages, video-letters: from director Shin'ichi Miyakawa to director Motoshi Fujinami. As soon as the letter is on its path to the recipient - the film starts its motion. Motion in a way, since Fujinami refuses to reply, politely referring to being busy at work and sneaking off from the story. At that time there are only Miyakawa's trifling notes about everyday matters, consisting of questions like «how are you doing?» or «how is life?». And an empty screen after each letter. «MOTOSHI!». No answer. «MOTOSHI!». No answer. «You MOTOSHI!». No answer. According to Miyakawa's words, such an ironic narrative form appeared by itself. From the real video-correspondence which was interrupted over one director's lack of time and continued over another director's free time and stubbornness. And nevertheless it seems to me that the format of mail correspondence, – even if it appeared borrowed from real-life events, – isn't an incidental form for the whole of Miyakawa's filmography. There is a definite accord between it and Shin'ichi's artful-naive style.

Taking into consideration that we are in a letter correspondence with each other, I will try to ask one very abstruse question. Presuming easy naiveté for all of the following reflections which, I expect, will have a «local character» and the meaning of which may hardly be splashed outside of our letters. So, what does it mean «to write a letter»? First of all it means to disturb a natural order of things. Each letter is a silent crime (or invention?), a little scratch on a surface of current reality. Beginning to tap words, a writer releases something hitherto non-existent, not imaginable. Right now we are falling down into the unknown game, which is evolving from within, even the rules of which are not quite set. There is only one way to constitute and learn them - moving forward, one letter after another. When you or Shin'ichi started inventing your first words, who knew what it could bring about, when it could end or maybe die out. «Perhaps, thus I will finish that film which seems to be forever unfinished?» – thinks Miyakawa's friend towards the end of the story, while he is spinning the last 8mm footage in his hands and about to screen it at the lake. And by then Shin'ichi himself, the author of the letters, the author of the movie has disappeared (presumably drowned into the pond that the whole story is named after).

By starting a letter from the very first shots, Miyakawa confirms his intention to move in an unpredictable direction. At first he repeats a short nursery rhyme as if it were a school exercise: «This is the spot?», «This is the spot?», putting the printed picture from Fujinami's message together with neighboring Tokyo sights, as a suddenly different question emerges: «Where are we going?» Meanwhile, the footage cuts transferring us to the train rushing in a strange direction. For the time being such tricks, shifts and infinite opportunities remind me of free fall. Or maybe flight in a balloon. Pleasant, serene, with the everyday circumstances: Miyakawa slowly depicts day-to-day life, his work places, childhood memories. But soon the self-composed rules of the mysterious game come into effect, and then the narration willfully eludes us in diverse directions. At some point our own writing seizes us, hypnotizes us. Over and over again we found Miyakawa on the lake, on that lake where he nearly drowned many years ago and there he returns for the first time because of the movie. At some point vanished Fujinami suddenly comes back to the story, comes back to give us disturbing news – there are rumors that Shin'ichi drowned while filming another letter. His mother confirms rumors and gives the last 8mm footage, the only thing remaining from her son. Under the pressure of strange presentiments and moods, Fujinami appears on the same lake. Everything meets in one spot. Night restless lake. Movie screen swaying in the wind. Enigmatic footage that will soon appear on the whiteness of the screen. Distracted Fujinami is behind the camera. And somewhere under the water – his drowned friend Miyakawa. After all, isn't it an absurd mise-en-scène, a swirled, super-inventive arrangement? Who could think of such a disposition in that very moment when Shin'ichi wrote the first lines of his first letter? Our letters are written by themselves. Can we say the same thing about Miyakawa's movies?

 

 

3

 

(Maxim Seleznyov --> Julia Kovalenko)

 

Julia, the letter I sent to you right now, I reread it. And what a strange effect – discovering our messages in the context of Miyakawa's movies; or is it that Miyakawa's movies are in the context of our correspondence? Because of that I can't but share with you some additional thoughts.

So, I reread my message and what I saw. within each letter was that my speech was no longer mine (not completely). Momentarily it reveals in itself the other, the one to whom it is intended. Isn't that why lovers (Alexis and Nika again) so often prefer letters to hide inside of, to find a shelter where they will be able to flow together, where each word becomes impossible without one of them? But what about Miyakawa's speech in The Lake? To whom is it intended for? Titles before any new fragment repeat one thing: «Shin'ichi Miyakawa --> Motoshi Fujinami». But at the end of the movie Miyakawa notifies the way that he was never familiar with any Fujinami, taking away strict meaning from titles. However, can we rely on that statement if a little later in his interview Shin'ichi says that he has a friend with that name? In other words: Fujinami exists or Fujinami does not, what does it matter?

Anyway, several times in a row, replies of a doubtful Fujinami are the same. Emptiness, black screen. And then the idea about the nature of addressing letters is becoming odd shapes in Miyakawa's movies. If the speech of such letters is always partially seized by the addressee, as if someone settles inside, then who enters and stays in Miyakawa's messages? Fujinami-who-does-not-quite-exist? Emptiness? To whom do the cinematic words of Miyakawa belong? To him and to nobody at the same time. As if he wants to displace himself and the course of his life from his own existence. Letter by letter, step by step come out of himself, crossing the line to another (black) side of the screen. Up to the very end, till a deadly outcome. Such is the logic of his letters, forcing him to drown in one of them. (Does it mean that similar fate threatens one of us? While writing letters, at one moment I had a feeling that I was getting sick).

What specific procedure – fading away by himself. I think that Miyakawa is looking here for one essential opportunity. Opportunity to leave himself in order to find a breath for new variations outside the screen. In order to reach new peaks of director's freedom in life and professional matters. It is some kind of existential liberation through doubt over each word and each lived year. And then these years are possible to put together in an absolutely new entirety. Where the eve of 1993s shot by the first camera meets and handshakes the eve of 2013s. And at that point «the letter to nobody» starts revealing in itself lines of «love letter».

 

 

4

 

(Julia Kovalenko --> Maxim Seleznyov)

 

 

 

5

 

(Maxim Seleznyov --> Julia Kovalenko)

 

Julia, hey! I’ve heard that you are very busy at work recently. Probably, that's why you didn't answer. In that case I dare to take a turn for myself, just like Miyakawa did in his film. Well, perhaps, it will be appositely as Shin'ichi's images still make me feel anxious and I tend to think about intermittence. About broken links.

Look, links are broken. By each step and by each new day. By removing from place to place. By loss of parental house. Do you remember, once we want to become wrestlers / football players/ aircraft designers? Now that entire world is for a lost dusty chest. You can only rediscover it like a sunken pirate treasure, wonderful resplendence from another epoch.

Links are broken. By each day and by each new step. By growing up. By inevitable conversion – from infancy to childhood, from childhood to youth and further. One condition lays over another and one day it seems impossible to catch a smile of your beloved on camera. Frankly speaking, it's complicated even to hold the person you love inside the frame for a while.

Here Shin'ichi Miyakawa is standing at the yard of his parental house and is instructing his mother as a film director: «You're my mother. Please, act as I’m expecting. Just stay inside the frame». «Alright» – the woman agrees softly, and diligently follows her son's lens. For a few seconds she is keeping pace with the circular spinning of Shin'ichi but very quickly she vanishes, being erased inside a dirty-green mash of rapid rotations. Just like in the Looking Glass where «it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!»

Maybe cinema itself holds their discontinuous breath by the same transgressions, gaps and losses? Once Naomi Kawase began research on her father, marking the way by semi-lost and abandoned items like an old photograph. One after another she revealed micro-traces and that's how her first movie appeared – Embracing. A few years ago Filipino Raya Martin shot silent vignettes of everyday life at Malay Archipelago stylized as if it were first Lumiere footage, returning a piece of broken-up history to his country in that way (as the real Filipino footage of 19th century was lost).

Well, here we go with two examples of films that we prefer, there can be many others, and all of them will hardly help us understand something in Miyakawa's movies. Because unlike Martin or Kawase and many other directors, cinephiles who are facing entropy inside history or inside their private lives, Shin'ichi functions right in the middle of «tragédie quotidienne». His films are sensitive for a disaster at that very moment when it barely ripens in kinks of some sunny day. His eye balances on that border where links are broke, people change, forcefully separated from each other and remains of feelings are swallowed by the past. Each new shot is returning to this border without sliding into nostalgia for the past, without rushing into the future dreams. Each shot - strange awkward junction in the middle of a rapid transformation. Somehow this junction keeps events together in Miyakawa's cinema.

So, instead of assembling dear things piece by piece, Shin'ichi used all his inventiveness to hold them safe in the moment of crashing.

 

 

6

 

(Julia Kovalenko --> Maxim Seleznyov)

Maxim, hello!

 

I was so happy to receive your letters! They provided a very dear distraction to me – recently, I’ve had so much work to do. The movie theatre at which I now work is involved in the hectic purchase of a digital cinema projector. So I’ve been thinking that relationships and connections can turn up as surprises under conditions that do not depend on us – throughout all this time, of course, I could not forget the story that Miyakawa told in one of his video letters in The Lake, about how he lost his job as a mechanic in a movie theatre, because screenings using film were stopped and his position was cut. (I’d like to paraphrase Miyakawa in The Lake: though I don’t want to say that digital is bad…). Anyway, we return with you to the very beginning – to Lumiere’s magic when cinema gave us connections in time (as is the case for Miyakawa’s films) and of places (for example, the new stories carried by these films, which joined together people from different cities and even different corners of the world, the way we do now.)

I don’t know if you’ve already seen Miyakawa’s Don’t Look Back, 2005. I remembered it because of your reflections on how Miyakawa does not let time and important-for-him things fall apart. Don’t Look Back is the only movie that that Miyakawa shot completely not with the film – he used a digital camera. Prior to our correspondence, this movie was not my favorite in Miyakawa’s filmography, but now, thanks to your letters, I find it to be very important. This movie is a disruption in itself. It not only breaks up director’s world of celluloid cinema through its digital shots, but is also dedicated to the disruption of family and historical continuity. In case you didn’t see it yet: everything starts with a cute and slightly clumsy interview with the mother; right in front of the camera this timid woman -- obediently but playfully enough -- tells the story of her brother, Shin’ichi’s uncle. He was an active and charismatic man at the height of his university career. But at the age of 38 he suddenly died of a heart attack when he got to the top of the mountain Asahidake. This tragedy took place on September, 23rd, 1962. And exactly 7,5 years later, on March, 23rd, 1970, Shin’ichi was born, in what was perceived by the family as a sign of reincarnation. But does Shin’ichi really want to be someone’s reincarnation? The director takes his camera and goes to the top of the mountain where his uncle died, in order to sort out his feelings and thoughts.

I think that, while, in some of Miyakawa’s other works, film itself became some kind of direct bridge between the past and the present, in Don’t Look Back times are paradoxically linked by the very absence of celluloid. In the sense that melancholy for the film, only for the very film has much more in common with handicraft aspect of the matter – it is, rather, university discourse, the question of transferring the trodden once and for all route. And Miyakawa obviously does not want to have anything to do with such simple craftwork attitude toward celluloid. Quite the contrary –film for Miyakawa is that what animates the very flow of time and thus opens a boundless space for imagination beyond any standards. «You can do anything with film!» – says Miyakawa. But simply echoing the sadness which will come with the decline and irrelevance of any sense of film as handicraft is, for Miyakawa, to let yourself by limited by the ideas, frameworks, interests and, above all, languages of others. Film, for him, offers a lovely way to talk and live in freedom, and it is part of his personal, independent universe. At the same time, however, film does not revive or «reincarnate» ghosts from the past. My guess is that, by shooting this time without film, Miyakawa lets us know that the past for him will always stay open – you can rethink, revive or even invent the past, and it will be able to weave itself into the present. But this does not mean a silly cyclical recurrence or obsession. After spending a cold night on the top of the mountain, Miyakawa comes back to the city and goes to the cemetery. Here, among the tombs of his relatives, Miyakawa finds the burial place of his uncle, and so is allegedly brought him his «strayed» spirit. So the continuity of the family’s reincarnation was broken – in order that ghosts from the past would not ever unfetter a freedom rooted in the connection between times.

 

 

7

 

(Maxim Seleznyov --> Julia Kovalenko)

Hello, Julia!

 

Yes, you're quite right about Miyakawa's third movie. There is a declared formula («hold together dearest things in the moment of crash») that ceases to operate. Or maybe it operates but in a paradoxical way when absence (of footage, of persons) insensibly starts to refer to presence. And I wish to step back a little (instead of looking back) to the earliest, maybe, slightly idyllic pictures of Miyakawa. Here a free paraphrase of them.

His debut Undone – the film about the frightening enlargement of the space which tears close people apart from each other to impassable distances, to a place out-of-reach. The film of a quite Carrollesque muddle with scales when in one day you can be in so many different sizes. In the opening scene the director's mother unspooled a skein of film. «What's there?» an off-screen voice asks. «Here is Shin'ichi! So small!» Indeed, on 8mm footage he's tiny; behind a camera he's big. Hey, so is he big or small? That's how the game of distances and scales begins. The storyline also opens on a measuring ground - Shin'ichi trying to shoot his parental house out of his window, trying to draw a direct line between spot A and spot B. Not an easy task: from a balcony the required house is not visible because of city constructions, on a high pagoda nearby isn't allowed to enter, and from Tsukuba mountain, it seems, the right region is already visible but anyway on camera we're getting blurred, indefinite picture.

From this point on, Miyakawa only multiplies experiments with the space: trying to run from parental threshold to another place (unsuccessfully, being returned into the house over and over again by montage's will), then examining the interval between himself and his mother by moving the camera. He continues to try and at some point puts into use not only his camera but also field-glasses and even telescope. At last, a solution was found and thanks to that 8mm footage which Miyakawa's mother held in her hands at the beginning of the movie. Shaking a long reel over the head, Shin'ichi was rushing round the house, which is dear to his memoires, whether wrapping it in several celluloid layers, whether embracing it with his filmed shots. «What a silly thing are you doing?» – meanwhile, we're hearing his mother’s rebuking voice, returning us to childhood. That's how nonsensical and absurd searches reveal the central image and invention of the whole movie. It's a small but useful ability – wind off from your past, not tear apart from it. Shin'ichi gave one the end of celluloid tape to his mother, took it’s reel in his own hands and ran away with it far down the street, somewhere he isn't visible anymore, unwinding the reel behind himself. From now on the film connects two different spaces that seemed to be so impassably distant at the beginning.

Second Miyakawa's short, I Am the One Who Defines Your 1 Second – film about time. About elusiveness of a human face within a whirlpool of quickly sweeping shots. At first, a smile of the beloved cannot be founded in the footage. Then the director's mother is drowning in the spinning picture. (She even had to go to the hospital having overdone running after the camera's lens during the maddening experiment of her son). Harmful optical illusion getting control over the movie. Feeling that each previous image is erased by each subsequent one. The camera does a small shift aside, and a human figure in the shot disappears out of sight, being blocked by the new image, turns into something that does not quite exist. That's an ordinary daily perception of time. Yesterday is still close, the day before is beginning to be forgotten, and what happened a year ago doesn't make any sense or have any rights now. As it happened in Undone, the home place was seemingly losing its significance in the process of physical separation from it.

Once again Miyakawa plunged into experimentation, chasing 1 second to make way into its structure and to learn how to define it for his loved ones. Using a freeze frame on the camera he takes out the smallest fragment from a crazy spinning where all things are turned into a shapeless colorful medley. There is a distinguishable human figure in a freeze frame – Shin'ichi himself, his concentrated and at the same time, naughty look turns in a lens. That's it, 1 second required. But what will you do with it? The director's hand, acting with idiotic diligence, puts it together with the earth under his feet, with a fridge, with a bush, with a wall – «This is the spot?». Where did all the movement disappear to? In response to this question, one shot suddenly is replaced by the next one right in Shin'ichi's hands. And the next. The image comes to life as animated pictures or landscape paintings set in motion and infinite becoming through a look. 1 second first ensnared with a mechanical device, deprived of life, and then finding freedom, broad interpretation, connection with the following and any other «seconds». One more idea formulated in the form of a technical trick: in order to define 1 second you must touch it within a stream. In the same inseparable stream Miyakawa, apparently, considers his life his cinema. Without commas in between.

 

 

8

 

(Maxim Seleznyov --> Julia Kovalenko)

 

Julia! And once again, gathering all previous letters in my mind, I want to throw one transversal statement on that stream. Let it pass on a surface as if it's a skipping stone.

In light of everything that was told and seen. I suppose that one of Miyakawa's cinema's vital elements, along with free imagination and absurd imagery, is inexhaustible craving for inventions. To wind a film round a loved one. To cover a house with hundreds of freeze frames and then set them in motion. To break through a projector screen for symbolical rebirth. Nearly each important thought or ordinary plot course is illustrated, substantiated by a new technical invention. So at some moments Miyakawa seems not so much the wonderful dreamer as a stubborn hardworking handy craftsman, though not without some madness. Or maybe he's a scientist-inventor but the type that's only relying on himself and handwork. Each of his conceptions settles between eccentrically childish imagination («hey, what if...») and real physical work. It's a strange, and for today, a quite rare combination, which is connecting him, not with modern avant-gardists, but rather with Buster Keaton or even some mad scientists-enthusiasts of the 19th century. It brings fragility of an incredible dream into his ideas and strict assurance of reality at the same time. And also it gives true suspense for his narrations, seemingly so personal and private.

Moreover, watching Miyakawa's movies is also like peeping into a scientist's laboratory while he is in the heat of work. All Shin'ichi's inventions, which are purposely not completely ready, are open to our external look; the entire machinery to the last falling out screw or ripped seam. Our experimenter is very modest in his claims and doesn't seek to expand the borders of cinema language, to patent a new method, which then will be acquired by a big production and dispersed in hundreds of imitations. His desire is more restrained and in some ways more thorough, more serious than the greatest and loudest discoveries. All he needs is to show ingenuity in coming-to-be as a non-interruptible stream. Disturbing, living, inspiring.

 

 

9

 

(Julia Kovalenko --> Maxim Seleznyov)

 Maxim, hello!

 

Your reflections concerning time in Miyakawa’s films and regarding his inventiveness evoked in me associations with Kidlat Tahimik. Do you remember his essay Cups-of-Gas Filmmaking vs. Full-Tank-cum-Credit-Card Fillmaking? I very much like the way he described how time could become, not only a good ally for any director, but also one of the most important supports in the struggle against globalization. As opposed to expensive equipment that allows for the shooting of large-scale and showy movies in a very short time, unhurried shooting with the help of the available means at hand could make the director’s journey one full of creativity and inventiveness, which would resist the threat of homogeneity in an era of digital standardization. In this sense I think Miyakawa’s movies are similar to an unhurried journey, a nomadism from one stop to another, when what waits for you around the corner is unknown. In this journey you are free to begin the shooting with only one scene or image that stuck in your head, while having no idea where it will lead you at the end (The Lake). You can start the correspondence with other director and then wait a long-long time for his answer until time will suggest you the very form of the movie that could be made in this situation. You can start the shooting of a movie about your beloved, and this shooting will lead you to your parents’ house, reviving a warm sea of recollections about your childhood; and then it will lead you again to Her – in the process turning into the most beautiful confession of love («I Am the One to Decide Your One Second»). As Miyakawa tells us, he is working now on the new movie that will be his next unhurried journey without any destination. This is so because it does not matter at all how much time it will take. It is important that, in this way, you find fellow travelers –Miayakawa says, for example, that he plans to shoot his new movie together with another young director, Haruka Mitani. «Making films means passing it on to somebody» – says Miyakawa. Cinema becomes, for him, the very way of finding friends, of communicating, of moving through time. But it is not a detached sort of activity in which time is clearly working against you. I guess something like this could be said also about cinephilia – movies become our letters to each other. At the same time our correspondences include also hidden recipients – directors who are important for us. Through cinema we are also finding our friends. It happens that with the movies that have charmed us, we are sending each other our hidden confessions of love. Anyway, perhaps, in talking about cinema we also become fellow travelers who luckily have no final station; time is our faithful ally, too.

 

 

10

 

(Maxim Seleznyov --> Julia Kovalenko)

Hello, Julia!

 

How to describe, finally, in simple words the film of Miyakawa? Let’s say it is a small object the size of an eyeglass case. This object possesses personal qualities, even something dear. You look inside and there is the whole optic system, flowing displacements from one way of seeing to another. Slightly opening Shin’ichi, we will probably initially see the lake (The Lake). The reservoir is small in size, unnamed for us, and it’s twinkling with childish recollections and rhymes from someone’s life. But while swaying on its dark water, our gaze lingered on the movie screen canvas that was set by somebody ashore. This white spot, of course, seizes the whole attention, distracts from thoughts about the lake, and promises amazing situations. Sure thing! Beautiful as the chance of meeting of cinema show and water treatments on the flatbed editor! Without even noticing we slipped from one point (the lake) to another (the white screen). When there is a crackle of the movie projector, and the image appears on-screen, there is one more displacement-slippage inevitably coming. The quality of the film, muted colors, scratches and dust particles twitching the picture, – it seems that all of this leads our gaze to the reality of other vast expanses. The water in the lake, the night light, everything around a little bit, secretly changes, when shots are appearing inside the situation. Then our attention quickly shifts to the weird plot of this footage. Here is a sunny day and the same lake, and over its surface a hand holding an 8mm camera raises. This Eye-Cyclops is pointed directly at us and is slowly creeping ahead. Hypnotic and a little bit exciting. This movement will be broken by an unexpected clumsy motion: someone groans and shakes our gaze clutching the camera that was just shooting the lake, the screen and the picture on it. Now it seems that everything is moving – water in the lake rolls on the shores, the screen sways in the wind, scratches chafe the picture, Camera-Cyclops is approaching us from the projection, and the other camera moves towards it. All this could be covered only by dizziness. By guiding disorientation.

Finally, the last displacement – the most absurd and totally delusional – takes place when the first camera comes to the screen, and the second goes under the water. After the switching of the projection through the screen, the very director Shin’ichi Miyakawa comes ashore with all his gracefulness – completely saturated with the lake’s mud and with an old 8mm camera in his hand. Here is one of the scenes in The Lake – spectacular, exciting, silly, and it seems to me that therein lies the very focus of Miyakawa on cinema and life. Focus on cinema as a specific scope for free, spontaneous crossings. The scope of a continuous and slightly chaotic formation, on the montage swirling of which it is hard to refrain from the delighted breath. Let me call it «entertainment», but entertainment glued from the most daily, boring, melancholic trifles picked up from life.

But first of all it is the small lesson of freedom. In Miyakawa’s storytelling it is unthinkable that one point of view could grab the whole control over what’s happening. Even the camera’s cyclopic eye in his interpretation is deprived of its registering, overwhelming, controlling sense. Because it is enough for only one clumsy motion behind the camera for the point of view to swing and drive away to another source. Any one gaze here is looking for a meeting, a touch and a slow crossing to another. Very often even not without comic effect. Free cinematography lives through these meetings. Endless displacements in Miyakawa’s movies evoke memories about the plurality and splitness of the human «I». But this splitness is not tragic (like «time is out of joint…»), but, rather, it is like inhale-exhale, like freewill. Slightly sad, but nonetheless breathtaking!

Sometimes it happens like that. The lake, where you liked to be during your childhood but almost drowned in and thus stopped going there, becomes the first shot of your movie many years later. You come back here again by amazing paths that were moved apart, departed from its coordinate system. In the same footage, inside the human life are knocking together incomparably different values, different points of view. Different times and historical eras are staying here. And it means that to come closer to solving its problems could be possible with the help of a series of tricky operations: to transplant yourself into the new gazes, new conditions, and new forms of writing.

 

 

Julia Kovalenko

Maxim Seleznyov

Novosibirsk (Russia), Odessa (Ukraine)

2015

 

 

English editing by Paul Grand, William Straw, Karina Tweedell