Since moving to Seattle, the only SIFF festival I didn’t cover was in 2017. You can read my reasons for that here. A celebration of my ten festivals wouldn’t be complete without a recollection from that festival, however, so here — for the first time — is a post from SIFF 2017.
Kore-eda Hirokazu is my favorite living director. I haven’t watched everything he’s made, but I’ve come close, and since I Wish, I’ve seen everything he’s directed (including that film), all of it in theaters.
In 2016, SIFF programmed Our Little Sister, Kore-eda’s best movie since Nobody Knows (though, like Ozu, he seems to be immune from making bad films). The next year, I heard he was going to be a guest at SIFF with his new film, After the Storm.
Since I was working the day it was playing, in the place where it was playing, I made sure to see the press screening ahead of time, hoping to duck into the back of the auditorium for at least part of his Q&A during my shift.
Despite having seen and loved so many of his films, I own none of them. One of my co-workers does, however, and got him to sign a DVD copy of After Life. I ran outside soon after and got several photos, one of which is at the top of this post. While I didn’t have anything for him to sign, I was more interested in welcoming him to Seattle (in Japanese) and telling him that I love his films.
Staff ushered him in before the screening, and then he left the building for a little bit. I was heading upstairs to restock something in concessions when I saw him return.
Now, most of the festival guests are flanked by several people at all times, so trying to talk to them requires dealing with more than one person. Kore-eda, however, came back alone. Since he entered near the door where the supplies were located, I should’ve just stopped for a second, said my piece, and then gotten the supplies. Instead, I did my job and thought how no one else in the lobby suspected that this regular-looking Japanese man was one of the greatest directors in the world.
So, the Q&A occurs, and I get permission to sneak in the back and watch some of it. Once it’s over, Kore-eda comes out, followed by a bunch of people — mostly Japanese women — who want to talk to him. I patiently wait my turn to talk, and then, when everyone else has gone, I take one step toward him…and he turns and walks with his translator out the door.
And that, my friends, is how I almost met Kore-eda.