Inoue Haruo

2022 September 1

Inoue Haruo

-Who is Inoue Haruo?

I’m one of the lucky filmmakers.
I entered this industry in the late 1980s, when the traditional strategy was still dominant in Japanese film production.
After graduating from university, I worked for Toei Studios Kyoto and gained experience in yakuza and samurai films. 

I also learned about B-movies thoroughly and became independent in my late twenties.
I made a lot of commercials, MV and TV pieces in my twenty to thirties.

I debuted as a film director before forty; I have made more than ten theatrically released films by now.
As an aside, I’ve produced four films with Afghan directors, which, perhaps, makes me a “rare case” in Japan.  

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I was working as a care worker while studying at the university. 

One of my charges was a man on the spectrum whose father happened to be a film director.
Back then, I had a dream, albeit nebulously, of working in the film industry. 

So, I started learning about screenwriting from this director while taking care of his son once a week.
Our textbooks were the works of Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi, etc., the legends of Japanese traditional films.
This encounter decided my future. 

(Though I must add that I was very attracted by New Wave films, such as Stranger Than Paradise by Jim Jarmusch.)

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in society?

That’s very difficult when it comes to Japan, where mainstream movies are either manga-based love stories or animated films.
Supposing a creator makes a provocative film with a strong social message, she or he usually wouldn’t be able to get enough money for marketing.

In other words, there is no support or distribution system for this type of film in our country yet. 

Film directors don’t belong to a company but work as freelancers, so it’s also difficult for them to stay financially stable.
We’re behind Korea or Taiwan, in this sense. Japanese films—fiction and documentaries alike—are certainly in a critical situation.  

-What would you change in the world?

What I would do is to keep raising awareness about people with disabilities, refugees and social minorities, such as the LGBT community or people with mental health issues.
It’s personal for me, because my son is living with a disability. 

You’ve just got to keep doing what you believe in.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Our society is overflooded with images made by AI on social media, such as Youtube, Instagram and Tiktok. 

Many of those images, however, are only copies or reworkings of past creations. 

We hardly see truly “new” images nowadays.
The visual world is impoverished by digital technology. 

We’ve obtained an innovative tool, but the world it shows has become rather dull.
Now, more than ever, filmmakers are free to create.
The future of the industry rests on our shoulders. 

It will be the outcome of how seriously we confront society, how sincerely we commit ourselves to the world.