Exclusive interview with director Chihiro Ito from "In Her Room"

"In Her Room" (ひとりぼっちじゃない/ "Hitori Botchi Janai" in Japanese) is one of the films in Nippon Cinema Now category make its world premiere at 35th Tokyo International Film Festival 2022. By the courtesy of TIFF, we got an opportunity to have special interview with director Chihiro Ito, a film director who works with  Isao Yukisada for many decades until she started making a film as filmmaker. She will talk with us about the ideas and styles from her first film.

The film make us touch the imagination and feelings of a main protagonist named "Susume", starring by King Gnu member's Satoru IguchiIn the beginning, Doctor Susume who spent his days without friends, start showing his emotion when he tied a relation with a stranger, but at the end he talked with his family once he decided to change his life.

The original novel is written in a diary style, Susume's feeling were written by texts, but in the film, his feelings were expressed verbally both gestures and special expressions. Although it wasn't filmed by chronological order due to the schedule, but actor Satoru Iguchi revealed his emotional changes at the end of each scene amazingly. Now, let's talk with director Chihiro Ito.

inStyle Asia:  Please tell us the reason why you make this film?

Chihiro Ito: My dream is writing the novel which its original story can be adapted and filmed into a movie. I took almost 10 years, it's long time to make the scripts from the novel. While i'm writing it for many years, i only wrote the texts, i'm thinking how i have been communicating with people, as well as the main protagonist in this film. The original novel is more like a diary style. May be i focused myself too much into the main character. I thought about my way of communication, and also want to be a film maker so when i am writing a novel, i can adapt it into a film.

To be a film director, you have to communicate with a lot of people, many questions were asked and i have to judge it each times, so my life will be different but i want to be in that lifestyle.

©In Her Room Film Partners 

inStyle Asia: How about the main casting, why you chose Satoru Iguchi, Fumika Baba and Yumi Kawai? What is your main reason to case the lead 3 characters?

Chihiro Ito: When i had dinner with several fans, i saw him (Satoru Iguchi), actually i saw his acting in a Isao Yukisada' s film, i liked his acting, i came to know his personality and when i make a film based on my own novel, I had recalled him, he is a good actor and he is the first person who came into my mind.

And Fumika Baba, i was really attracted by her looks, her visual, her body shape style. i also liked her face, so i was attracted from her visual and looks. When i thinking of "Miyako" character, i thought that it should be her for this role.

For Yumi Kawai, i saw her from a film "Sasaki In My Mind". i was much attracted by her acting. When i thinking for my film, i just had recalled her and she is good for this role.

©In Her Room Film Partners

inStyle Asia: We heard the sound of water as a background music in your film, Could you please tell us what is your idea about that sound?

Chihiro Ito: Actually it's the sound of mother's wombs where baby is inside. In this film, i expresses the mother's wombs or femininity as the background and the music is metaphor of that. Ideally i wanted the audience feel they are in the wombs by listening to that sound.

©In Her Room Film Partners

inStyle Asia: This film is produced by Isao Yukisada as producer, Did you get some influence or inspiration from him?

Chihiro Ito: I'm working with him regularly and also working as a scriptwriter for his films. As a filmmaker, what i'm thinking is about how to do the film or something i've learned from him, when it became a contents which i have to express things more visually, i asked him for his advices and he gave me some.

inStyle Asia: You got his advices during making the film?

Chihiro Ito: When the filming process started, i was emerged myself into the film as a filmmaker, because Isao Yukisada's idea has very strong influence and very powerful, i didn't want to be dragged into his way of thinking. I really want to be emerged by myself on my own expressing way.

inStyle Asia: What is your most favourite scene in this film?

Chihiro Ito: There are many scenes that i liked, may be the most favourite scene is when "Miyako" (Fumika Baba) lies on the road.

inStyle Asia: Do you think what is the interesting point in this film which make your film different from others in the same genre?

Chihiro Ito: I don't know the genre you are thinking right now, it may different from what i'm thinking. I think this film is very different and it's difficult to categorise into one genre. 

If you think this film is "love story" genre, may be one of the characteristic point which make this film a bit different from the others is, the main protagonist named "Susume" (Satoru Iguchi) always stays outside from the most core parts in the story, there are many things happening around him, but he can't be involved and not be in the center of it. 

If you put this film into a "relationship" genre, all kinds of relationship happening like people meeting other people who they want to be with, but it's all happening around "Susume", a lead character, but not him.

inStyle Asia: So, if you can name a genre for your film?

Chihiro Ito: may be "horror" genre.

inStyle Asia: We knew that this is your first film as a film director, but before you started this film project, you also had long experiences with various roles in film career such as scriptwriting etc. 

Making a movie as a film director is different from your previous works?

Chihiro Ito: Everything is so different. For example the number of staffs we have to deal with, it was much much bigger scale. When i'm writing the scripts, i also wanted to respect the director's style, i wanted them to have a lot of rooms with their own imagination, i wanted to do a short writing style in my script, so when i wrote a script for this film, i did the same style and i got a lot of questions from the actors. I realized that i left a lot of rooms for the director in my previous writing scripts as well.  Then this times, i have to make it visually, so everyone have asked me a lot of questions.

inStyle Asia: Do you think COVID19 situation also make any effects to your film?

Chihiro Ito: When i'm writing the novel, it was under COVID19. When i adapting it into the scripts, we are already in pandemic time. I realized that many people are very sensitive about the social distancing on that days. It was an original theme i wanted to write in my novel, but when i adapting it into script, i wasn't conscious of it, but i think i put it conciously in the film, may be i used the expression that audience could feel about it.

inStyle Asia: Susume, the protagonist is a man who wanted to change himself, why you think relocating to Nagasaki prefecture can change one's life?

Chihiro Ito: Even in the film, Susume doesn't know why he want to go there, but he wanted to change the place to be different from how he has been and it's difficult to make decision, but changing the place and changing the environment is very important, i think. I did the same when i decided to direct the film. 

So Susume thought he have to change his situation right now, i think he has a hunch to change it. This is so important when he declared by himself to change the environment.

At the end of corner, i think a lot of people make a big decision for their life, some go to the different places, some changed their jobs, some changed their relationship, some changed their lifestyles. When i making the film, i wasn't aware of that, but people always do that.

inStyle Asia: In the film, we saw Susume's mother who staying with her female friend like she is her partner?, do you also put LGBTQ theme in the film?

Chihiro Ito: i really don't like the boundaries, when it's about gender, i don't like the concept of different gender with  boundaries, even in a relationship, i don't have the sense that the opposite sex are in a relationship. So, in my sensibility, i wanted to show this in my works as well. I think how we living our life should be free like them.

inStyle Asia: How about your next project?

Chihiro Ito: Yesterday, i had watched it, my second film is already completed. It's all about a distance between the people as its background story.

Some people said that they can't believe this second film is done by the same director, may be it much softer, much warmer. But for me, the theme is much similar to my first one, it's about who you wanna be with on the next day.

inStyle Asia: Thank you so much. After watched your first film, we believed that many audience like us may wanted to read your original novel and also looking forward to watch your second film.soon.

About the film 

Synopsis: Debut feature by Chihiro Ito based on her own novel, produced by Isao Yukisada. In his first starring role in a film, Iguchi Satoru plays an awkward and sensitive dentist who is troubled by love.

Title: "In Her Room" (ひとりぼっちじゃない in Japanese) - Based on an original novel by Chihiro Ito

Director: Chihiro Ito 

Cast: Satoru Iguchi, Fumika Baba, Kawai Yumi

Released date: 10th March 2023

Spoken language: Japanese 

Official Instagram: In Her Room 

Official Website: In Her Room

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