Interviewed by Isao Tokuhashi & Mai Namiki
Written by Isao Tokuhashi
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Kazuya Ogawa (Part1)
Today we’re introducing you to Kazuya Ogawa, a young auteur or film director who made a movie called “Pink Subaru”.
The movie is set in Tayibe, a town on the Israeli-Parestinian border. A man fulfilled his heart’s desire and got a new Subaru Legacy, but he was robbed of his treasure on the following day. The story opens from that moment.
Some of you may think that the movie depicts a war or is political. If so, it’s totally different from what you had guessed. It’s an excellent human comedy, the characters in the film are really lovely and they bring smiles to your faces. It’s a really heartwarming movie which makes your day. That’s “Pink Subaru”.
I wanted to meet the director of this movie right after seeing the movie. I wanted to learn the background of the Japanese filmmaker who made this movie in a comedy style on the Israeli-Palestinian border. I mentioned this on Twitter, then a producer of Pink Subaru said OK! It was like a curveball so I went to see him with a woman who’s been to both Israel and Palestine and has learned the Arabic language and culture.
This interview will be in three parts. The first part is the secret story of the creation of Pink Subaru. In part 2, we will cover the true aspects of the Middle East which Ogawa and his staff saw. That last part is his unique standpoint and ideas.
*Pink Subaru official website (Japanese): Click here!
Tokuhashi: Your film is covered by many kinds of media including morning TV shows, not only by movie magazines. How do you feel about that?
“Pink Subaru” is a diverse movie so I think it’s OK. Some media covered it from a Middle Eastern angle, other media covered it from the angle of lifestyle or a kind of sexual angle they associated with “pink”. I’ve welcomed any media so far and some of them focused on automobiles.
Tokuhashi: I didn’t know about the story of Subaru in Israel.
*Most Japanese automakers hesitated to export their products to Israel in the ‘70s because they placed more emphasis on Arab countries because those had larger markets. But only Fuji Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of Subaru, launched an export transaction with Israel and it gained great popularity among Israelis.
This movie is fiction but is it true that there are many Subarus in Israel?
Back right：Kazuya Ogawa Back left：Keisuke Tanaka (Producer)
Photo by Mai Namiki
Tokuhashi: How long was the shooting of this movie?
Tokuhashi: Did I hear that right?
Ogawa: Well, we were there for four months. We went location hunting and refined its script. Also we gave an audition there. But we took only 20 days for filming itself. Actually it’s a feature film and our movie crew didn’t consist of Japanese, so you may think even faster.
We had an assistant director who could speak Italian, English, Hebrew and Arabic. We didn’t look for such a multilingual person at all; our coordinator found him.
Tanaka: Japanese filming style is like getting together in the morning, shooting all day long, going home in the night and getting together the next morning. But we stayed at the filming location during the shoot, so it was kind of efficient.
Ogawa: Moreover we could interact with each other in English so there was no problem with communication. Of course English is not our native tongue, so sometimes I felt some difficulties with communication. But it was within my expectations so that was not a big deal. And I’ve lived overseas for 10 years.
However the actors were in Tel Aviv. So it was hard for them to come to the filming location.
Tokuhashi: It was a short distance away from Tel Aviv, right?
Ogawa: About 35km (approximately 22miles) from there, not too far. But there was no public transportation so we had to pick them up all the time.
Tanaka: We hired chauffeurs, but all of them were auto thieves. Some of our staff too.
We filmed some scenes at a house of an auto thief. That made this movie alive.
Tokuhashi: You couldn’t sit still during the shoot, could you? A car was stolen before you knew it…
You don’t have to worry about that because they never rob things from their family or associates. If they did that, they would get fired. In the Middle East, people never cheat you once you break the ice with them. That’s like the way we Japanese used to be.
Tokuhashi: What I felt when I saw the movie was, “the director must have been in the Middle East for a long time”. I guess you were totally integrated into their cultures and lifestyles.
I lived in Italy for four years before and did many things there. While I was in Italy, I met Akram Telawe, a leading actor of Pink Subaru. He’s been living in Italy but his hometown is Tayibe, where the film is set in. His wife is an opera singer and acted as “Ms. Legacy” in the movie. She is Italian.
I worked at a vineyard, which was owned by a Japanese man. His name is Hideyuki Miyagawa, the producer of Pink Subaru. My former coworker loved cultural things very much and he introduced me to Akram. He said that he wanted me to see Akram because he was going to put together a show with a Jewish-American guy. He thought that I would be able to join them as a filmmaker.
We hit it off as soon as we met each other and we started working on the film three days later. Then we taught kids how to make video clips and ran workshops on filming & acting for school teachers. Of course we worked on our collaborative project – boards & film – in parallel. And I took up with his wife, Giuliana Mettini.
One day Akram told me, “Would you come to Palestine with me? I’m going to return home temporarily.” I went there and I came up with an idea of making the movie.
Tokuhashi: When did you come up with an idea?
First of all, I felt something strangely familiar about Palestine when I got there. Akram’s whole family gathered around me. Generally speaking, Arab people serve the first cup of tea to their guests. They serve the second cup of tea to their friends and a third tea to their families. It means they give the best things to their guests. That’s their culture. Moreover they are very curious about Japanese and they love Japanese very much.
Tokuhashi: Do they?
Yes, many people love Japanese. There are many reasons for that, such as “Japanese defeated the Russian Empire in the early 20th century, Japanese earnestness or Japanese products like Sony. In many ways they feel a real affinity with Japan.
Click here and go to Part2!
Pink Subaru official website (Japanese): http://www.pinksubaru.jp/