We’ve had the pleasure of showing five films over the course of two years by this talented filmmaker. He is an alumnus of SUNY Plattsburgh and has shot films in England and Japan (where he currently resides). He is the first recipient of the LCIFF’s “Golden Honeycomb” Award. And this past November, his documentary -1287 was voted audience favorite at the festival. His films have focused on drug abuse to the nuclear fallout in Fukushima. Of course, we are talking about festival favorite Ian Thomas Ash.
This Friday, March 4th, Ash’s Even the Birds Need to be Loved will be screened at our “A Night of International Film”. If you would like to read more about the film, we suggest checking out the following two links to Mr. Ash’s blog: here and here. We spoke with Mr. Ash over email about the film.
LCIFF: As a cross-cultural filmmaker, are you conscious of audience? Did that play a part in the making of this film?
ITA: The issue of audience— who the film’s intended audience is— is one that filmmakers “should” think about, but I often try to avoid. I am always afraid if I think too much about a certain target audience that it will force me to make unnatural changes to the film. As much as possible, I want the story of the film to develop naturally, without too much influence from me. Saying this, I perhaps consider the issue of audience a bit more when a film is finished and decisions need to be made about promotional materials and which audiences/ festivals are going to targeted.
LCIFF: There is a sense of calm and enjoyment with life in the film. Is that something you purposefully emphasized?
ITA: That sense of calm and enjoyment with life in the film came from the Uno’s, the couple documented in the film. Perhaps my eye was particularly drawn to beautiful, peaceful moments— like taking a walk, enjoying some tea, or feeding treats to the cat— moments that we all too often overlook in our own lives, but they were already there waiting to be captured.
In the past my films have dealt with drugs and homelessness, while currently, I am working on a documentary about male sex workers in Japan. If anything, this film’s “sense of calm” is an aberration compared with much of my other work.
LCIFF: You have focused on elderly subjects at different points in your films. Is that a theme you are attracted to?
ITA: Rather than the elderly, per se, I would say that I am attracted to themes about the meaning of life and of death. And while it is true that much of my recent work has focused on elderly people navigating their way through life (and death), much of my work in Fukushima has focused on issues of health, especially that of young people, and how it will affect their lives.
Even the Birds was filmed more than five years ago. Sadly, Mr. Uno passed away last year, but one of his daughters recently told me that she often watches the film and is grateful to have this glimpse into the lives of her parents preserved. Mrs. Uno is well, and continues to enjoy music and time with friends and family. She is now 88, the age of Mr. Uno in the film.
LCIFF: Is Ozu an influence?
ITA: No, I only drink red wine. And whisky. ;)
(LCIFF: Thanks for the joke only film nerds would get, Ian!)