Filmmaker Q+A: Hiroya Sakurai
Hiroya Sakurai received the No Violence Award at the 56th AAFF for his film The Stream VII.
How did you come to know that film would be an important medium for you?
Video Gallery SCAN was established by Fujiko Nakaya in Tokyo in 1980, when I was
an art university student.
I have viewed many video art works that were distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix
(EAI) in that gallery.
I have submitted my films to competitions organized by Video Gallery SCAN and they
have shown my films. The judges included Gary Hill, Bill Viola, Toshio Matsumoto and
other video artists.
The video works that were selected differed from the Hollywood movies and TV
programs. I learned there are no limits to expression in filmmaking.
This is the reason the film medium is so important for me.
Once you knew that, what did you do? Did you seek formal training, practical
experience, or some combination of the two?
I have tried to shoot and edit without being bound to the historical theory of filmmaking. I began to record sound near my house with a video camera.
For me, it was not the video that captured the image. Instead, the video was a tool to
record the sound. I concentrated on observing the tone, volume, and length of the
I classified the property of each of the sounds and put them in a timeline when I edited
them. It did not matter to me whether it was a movie or music.
I also used to read R. Murray Schafer’s The Tuning of the World (1977) in order to
learn about environmental sound.
I am interested in music. Music and film are time-based art.
I can express my themes better through film than by playing music.
One of my early influences was astronomical observation when I was a teenager.
I have observed stars within the frame of a telescope. I learned to gaze at stars like a
still life for long periods of time with the sound of insects and the wind. It was one of
the most beautiful experiences ever for me.
Current sources of inspiration?
Have you listened to the sound you hear when you hold a conch shell to your ear? You
can hear beautiful white noise like the sound of the beach. I use the same method with
a microphone and a glass jar. When editing the recording, I retained only the frequency
that sounded like a person’s voice. The resulting sound that the audience hears is like a
chorus that you can hear in the sound in my film The Stream VII. I found that I could
listen to a chorus of songs in the environment without any singers.
What are you working on?
Now I am editing my new film, The Stream IX.
What’s on your mind (and in your heart) these days?
I may stop shooting these films in the near future, because it was much hotter than
usual this summer. Climate change has affected my filmmaking! This is a big problem!