The Sion Sono (2016) - full transcript

Directed by Arata Oshima, son of rebel filmmaker Nagisa Oshima, who had praised Sono's early work before his passing, this documentary gives insight into the man, the poet, the painter, the...

4 Sion Sono movies opened in 2015.

Your name is associated
with the unorthodox.

People think you're a radical
cult filmmaker.

That's your public image but

with 4 movies back to back,
you're suddenly the hottest director.

What do you think of that?

There's a tradition in Japan of
belittling the unorthodox.

I think formality is overrated
in Japan.

I went to Norway where Edvard Munch
is an admired artist.

He's unorthodox!

I think that shows something
about Japan...

Here people don't want Japanese culture
to be represented by the unorthodox.

In their thinking...

They don't want something that lets
down Japan as a nation.

Or embarrasses it.

The whole country praises something
that won't embarrass them.


They must be international unlike
music and literature.

- Only movies?
- Yes.

Yes, the other arts can be
domestic but not movies.

Fine art's the same. It can't just
be for Japan.

I don't care if the Japanese
film industry sees me as "unorthodox."

That's not how I'm
seen abroad.

Not that I've asked everybody
overseas but...

I'm not exceptionally unorthodox.

"Paying power bills is not life"

Aoyama, Tokyo
July 2015

"My feelings are about to blow up."

"My turtle makes me feel all right."

"Since Tokyo was chosen to host
the Olympics"

"everyone walks
5 cm above the ground."

About 5 months ago

- Can we see your art?
- Sure!

Sono's studio in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo
February, 2015

Wow, look at that!

"To hate your parents is
to hate yourself."

"I have no more time."

"You're born and you soon die.
There's no time to relax."


The price of canvas won't make
me paint neatly.

Nothing costs more than life,
than each second!

What's this...2015?

Here we are, all together
in this room.

This is worth 50 million yen!

Or even more.

So here we are
in the act of talking.

It's 2015 and we're talking.
It's priceless.

See what I do with randomly
chosen paint.

Like this. It's not even a shape.
That's what it's about.

This canvas was expensive.

It cost a lot. But you just
apply paint without caution.

That's how it starts.

I messed up!

It's ruined, right?

What a mess...

This is what adolescence is like.

An adolescent canvas.
She's been defiled.

She lost her virginity to
some fool.

Now she doesn't care.
Along comes another careless guy.

Bad choice number 2.

She's messed up her life even more!
What now?

Green and pink.
Bad contrast.

It's ugly.

Now this.

It's ruined! If the canvas was life,
it's totally screwed!

It's ugly.

What's she going to do now?
I worry about her future.


Uncle Sion drops by...

...and pukes!

Look at this, this is bad.

It's a dramatic life.

It's no longer white...

It's not pure.
Its purity has been lost.

Life's bleak.

A bleak future.
The first man has gone too.

The pink is all covered up now.


If this was a 80-year-old woman
she'd still have hope.

She still has a bright future.

While it's bright...

this comes in.


What's been done to this very
expensive canvas?

It was raped by a tsunami.

A tsunami

messes everything up!

Her life is on the edge now!

But this is the beginning for me.
She's 18.

She wanted a white, untainted life
like the canvas...

Many things have happened...

And life begins.

Life begins but nothing
good will happen.

Sometimes there're good things.

I could...

I'll show you something good.

She wants to join AKB48.

See what I'd do to that...

A smart man.

Like this.

Here's a smart man.

But I don't want to do this.

He's 13 and acting smart.

His classmates bullied him
and he's gone.

It's a mess!

So what do you want to do?

What now?

This is the ultimate mess!
This canvas...


It's dirty.

So random.

Is this good?

Come on.

Is this good?

I don't know.

Follow me.

Tell me. Is this a good painting?

How about this?


Is this good?

- Tell me, Oshima.
- No.

It's bad, right?

But it's wonderful!

I've been working on it
since July 20, 2014.

I painted some today too.
Here, February 11.

It's been almost half a year.

It's not about if it's good or bad.

Like a movie.

From here I went to July 20...

Life isn't about good or bad.

Paint, express and live!
That's good.

When July 20 comes again...

There's no good or bad.

This is life.

You got that?

I'll continue working on it until

next July 20.

There's no good or bad.

That's life.

I'll show you how rough I'm with it.


Like this.

You deserve it!

Got that?


September, 2014

Hi, I'm Sono, the director.

What's to discuss?

- Can't the producer go first?
- He's last.


It's called The Whispering Star.

Let's make a movie without
any accidents.

We'll shoot with safety in mind.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Yoko's blood is blue fluid.

Scene 33, practical effects.

Night scene, walk to the mansion.

A smoke machine for
Yoko's walk in the woods.

It's the road before Marin Park
in Namie town, Fukushima.

She has a flashlight

and we'll make the leaves fly
with wind.

I haven't made a movie in a while
that I put my heart into.

I want to do my best
but I've forgotten how to.

It's been a while.

It's unhealthy.
It's hazardous to creativity.

This one's going to wash me clean.

All the indecent jobs
I've been doing recently...

- You'll wash them off.
- Yes.

I'll get clean then I'll
have to do The Virgin Psychics.

You can do that one for me.

I don't want to read the script.

- You're on camera!
- I'm not reading it.

When a project doesn't interest me,
I work extra hard.

For the record.

Sometimes I rise to the occasion,
like with Tokyo Tribe.

That has your signature.

Maybe it did but...

I'm more committed to movies
based on my scripts.

We got the go-ahead for
The Whispering Star

and the set was partially constructed
when the money fell through.

It's a personal project for me.

One of the themes is that even in space,
there's everyday life.

Science fiction movies
since 2001 :A Space Odyssey

have people on spaceships
wearing spacesuits.

I want an apron, like
a regular housewife's.

I thought an apron in space
would be interesting.

Just regular attire.

She has to ride a bike
through the deserted town.

Because if there's no movement...

It'd be just scenery.

Like a shot in a karaoke video.

If the camera doesn't move with her

we won't see the shocking reality
of the scenery.

That nobody's there.

- You drew these when you were young?
- The storyboards? Yes.

I was 27 or so.

- You were very prepared.
- Right.

- You had time?
- Yes. I had nothing to do all day.

- Did it have the Fukushima scenes?
- No! Of course not!

To make The Whispering Star
in 2015

I thought I'd integrate my feelings
about 3/11 disaster.

To make it more interesting.

What's different between now and when
you wrote the script 20 years ago?


I was pretentious
and sometimes I was excessive.

What I thought would be great

isn't now
after all those years.

Because movies have
evolved in those decades

a preposterous story like that

has become more acceptable.

20 years ago

it would've made a very weird movie.

Principal photography - Day 1
October 1, 2014

Kill it!



We got a great shot.

It's been 10 years.

The registration ID is Z.

"The Whispering Star"

This is a poem I wrote about
the weathering of memories.

OK, lick it!

This is a fantasy film
about memories.

How we've dealt with memories
since ancient times.

Seen through our memories of
the disaster on March 11, 2011.

It's me from the past,
back for revenge.

It's about time!

Sono is working simultaneously
on multiple projects.

OK, Mr. Sono.

About the project...

The 2nd one's good.

- They agree?
- Well...

They haven't decided.
They want to see the treatment.

You know the title?

The Man from Goodbye.

- The Man from Goodbye.
- That's the title.

Or The Woman from Goodbye.

Have Woman in parenthesis.

A man and woman. I'll decide which
one comes from the past.

I'll decide.

The Man from Goodbye, for now.

I might make it a woman.

A man encounters a woman in the street.

They meet and...

They just met but he says "goodbye."

They really hit it off but he says


Because it feels right to say
goodbye at that moment.

He's very happy to meet her.

He's euphoric.

They're meant to meet.

Will people outside Japan get this?

They're always meant to meet.

"I can only say goodbye."
"What are you saying?" So it begins.

I'm thinking about how it ends.
They part.

Maybe the man who came from Goodbye

disappears as he steps
into an alley.

Or when a bus passes between them.

Not a Japanese bus...
Oh, a Japanese bus is OK.

Or a train passes
and he disappears.

And The End.
That's the movie.

It's very romantic.

Isn't it?

I can write romance.

Not just blood and gore.

Who do you want to cast?
I'll book them.

Fumi Nikaido and...

She's busy!

And Shota Sometani.

- Just 3 days.
- Back to Himizu...


It's unforgettable.

It was our very first encounter.

Fumi Nikaido and I were called in.

It was for a read-through
in the rehearsal room.

That was the first day of

So I went.

And Mr. Sono was late.

Not only that but he was drunk.
He came in and sat down.

He told us to read.

So Fumi and I started to read.

We finished.
But I'm pretty sure he was dozing.

I thought, "Hey, he nodded off..."

Then he lay down and slept.

We couldn't just stop reading.

It was my first Sion Sono movie.

I was tense.

When we finished, he got up.

He said, "Are you done?
You can go home."

And I thought...what was that?

It was like a challenge.
The start to a roller coaster ride.

I don't remember well.
I noticed that he was asleep.

He could have been drunk.
I guess he was.

But anything he said was insightful.

He gave me a score. What was it?

It was lower than Shota's.

Each scene was very demanding.

But I knew I could deal with them.

I felt that I had
been reborn.


He was like a father figure
to us on the set.

We were like an adolescent boy
and girl

freely expressing themselves
with Dad there.

Let me see...

He comes across as being adorable.

It didn't take us long

to become accomplices in crime
so to speak.

All his ideas are fascinating.

He'd throw unpredictable
and off-kilter ideas at me.

I loved his ideas and we
ended up exchanging ideas.

We enjoyed that and kind
of connected as a result.

I want to play Sion Sono.

I really do. The young Sion Sono.

As the enfant terrible he is.

I'm totally confident
that I can play him.


I see.

This is good.

The lantern!

Can you spin it?

Let me try.

- It's spinning.
- You can't see it...

There's the carousel mobile.

Is it similar to the storyboard you
drew 25 years ago?


I never thought
it'd be realized like this.

If I was 30

making this and Love & Peace
I'd have been called a genius.

With girls after me.

But I'm not 30 anymore...

It's open.


Oshima is with me.


It's a mess.


Where are my keys?

You're quick.

- Otherwise...
- You'd forget?

- You were inspired?
- Yes.

I've got it pretty much covered.

I'm done.

It would probably be the same
if I did this tomorrow but...

Then again, it'd be different.

An idea I come up with today

would change tomorrow.

It's storyboarded
but I come up with new ideas.

That's how it goes.

Izumi honey!

I'm hungry. Do we have something?

Like yesterday's noodles...

You talk about the shoot at home?

No, hardly ever.
Megumi Kagurazaka (Izumi Sono)

I guess we don't.

We don't, do we, Sion?

This is my bible.

Tropic of Cancer, within your reach.

- You read it often?
- No, but I want to, so I bought it.

I gave Izumi a copy.
She was like, "You got another one!”

- How come?
- He buys the same things.


He gives people
his favorite things.

We have many empty DVD cases.

Mainly movies and novels?


Sometimes CDs.

- I buy many CDs.
- The same ones.

The same one over and over?

Yes, I like to ruminate.

He shows me the same scenes
over and over.

When he's drunk.

Like an old guy repeating
the same story.

"The history of this mansion..."
I'm like that.

He can drink but I worry
about high uric acid.

That's a concern.

You can drink
but watch out for gout.


Was that boring?

See you tomorrow.

You met him...

On Cold Fish. That's when
we first met.

Were you nervous at first?
Cold Fish

Not only was I
tense and nervous...

It was so tormenting that
I don't want to remember.

He pushed me to the edge.

Can you tell us how?

I was pushed...

It was really intense.

It was like everything
I'd experienced was denied.

So I was...

I didn't know
who I was anymore.

All my experiences, hardships
and sad times

were denied.

He'd say my acting didn't reflect
my experiences.

He'd say,
"Is that the best you can do?"

- Was that different?
- In Guilty of Romance...

We were dating then.

So it was different but
it was still tough.


Because we were close...

he was merciless.

You know how you can be harsh
to family members?

Of course I wanted to
give a professional performance.

I wanted to meet his demands.

If I failed him

it would change
our personal relationship.

Our private life and work were one.

So that was stressful.

This makes you emotional.

I don't mean to be rude but
it's been 5 years

but your response is raw.

It's tough to remember.

I don't know why.
I break down when I remember it.

I don't know. Nothing's bad now.
It's just when I look back...

I don't know.
Each mistake I made, I...

I don't know what I'm saying.

Come to think of it
I'm amazed that I got through it.

He took you seriously
as an actor.

I guess he did.

I threw myself into it then
so I didn't...

When I look back at those days

I get all emotional like this now but

I was OK then because
I was totally absorbed.

Sorry. Can I get my handkerchief?

It brings back difficult memories...

Let's have a break.


It's tough.

Over here.

It was a hard time.

It was!

The painful memories.

There were many things...

Like the woman who was
hanging around him...

I was mad.

I don't even know why I
put up with it.

Let's change the topic.

Many talented people

have something lacking.
How about Sion?

I know what you mean.

Is he hard to live with?

I've come to accept it.
He focuses on what he loves.

He single mindedly follows
his interests.

He thinks that he doesn't need
to remember some things.

Like how to get places.
He depends on others for that.

He just doesn't remember!

It's like Sion deliberately
keeps his head clear.

So he can concentrate on what he loves.
It's amazing.

- Does he cook or do chores?
- No, he doesn't.

It's sacrificed for his creativity.

He can't operate a washing machine.

He won't learn and
he wouldn't wash clothes anyway.

If he had a chance to learn

how to cook rice, he'd rather read
or see a movie.

I guess that's how
he's always lived.

He must have washed his clothes
when he lived alone.

I don't think so. I think
people did it for him.

Someone who'd take it on for him.

Do you argue?

No, not recently, but...

He used to come home late
and want to continue

a conversation he'd been
having over drinks.

I'd be sleepy and

I'd say what I thought
and it would become an argument.

"I'll leave you!"

He'd say it every time!

"I'm leaving you!"

Gnash your teeth hard, let's go!
Now gnash and gnaw, let's fly!
Sion Sono and the Revolution Q

It's like a tingling bite
Gnash 'em hard, let's go!

Gnash your teeth hard, let's go!
Now gnash and gnaw, let's fly!

Keep 'em nice, Ga-Ga-Ga and Gi-Gi-Gi!
Keep 'em shiny and clean!

They won't talk about
classical music or jazz.

Rock music critics
stick to rock.

Film critics try to cover everything!

- It should be categorized?
- Yes!

Some of them know nothing
about horror films!

But still...

What category does Sion Sono
fall into?

I'm hard to categorize
but it's frustrating in general.

Your films are

Riki Kinoshita,

Sion Sono is a category.

I'm an outsider in the movie world.

You're right about that.

I'm out there.

I am Sion Sono.


others make movies for a genre.

The Great Passage fits into
Human Drama.

Who's doing literature movies?

- Naomi Kawase.
- Yes, and Kore-eda.

- He's not necessarily...
- He can be.

Because there's nobody else.

He's the last one.

Kore-eda makes those movies
but he can also be commercial.

But Kawase is pure literature.
Arata Oshima - The director

Let's include him though.

- Their category is Cannes.
- Right.

No one in Japan makes movies
like literature.

There's no Lars von Trier.

He always talks about von Trier.

A von Trier type movie wouldn't
get funding in Japan now!

A Lars von Trier movie
is so much more interesting.

There's nothing like his
films in Japan!

Japanese films in comparison
are so boring.

It's a different league!

Stupid film critics would

criticize Nymphomaniac
and my movies.

Then praise The Great Passage.

Who do they think they are?

These idiots would
say Picasso is childish.

Then they'd praise some
picture of Mount Fuji at sunset

even though it's rendered
in the same old way.

The time now is 3 PM.

Please leave the area by 4 PM.

Don't forget to do
a radiation reading

on your way out of town.

Fukushima shoot, day 1.

I don't usually get nervous
on a shoot

but I am today.

I really am.

We can see how big it is.

It's the CIA!

Hello, thank you for coming.

Thank you for doing this for us.

Ma'am, you have a little dialogue.
Sono cast many local residents.

Do I?

You have some too, sir.

If it's OK.

It's just everyday dialogue.

The fact that they're shooting it here
is something

that makes me sad but happy.

I'll remember everything
when I see the movie.

I feel grateful.

Just like his The Land of Hope,

I bawled my eyes out watching it.

As the memories fade...

The movie reminds us
of all that happened.

I want it to jump out
into the street.

Maybe put a mannequin there.

The wheel rolls out
of nowhere...

It rolls out then

you watch it until it stops.

You stop, put the bike down.


You hold the wheel up, OK?

Drop it

then go back to delivering
the package.

And action.


Not good. Again!

Last one.


This is a safety announcement
from Tomioka town.

The time now is 2:30 PM.

It hasn't changed.

In 3 years.
Like my neighborhood.

Nobody cleaned up
around here.

It's untouched.

- I don't like remembering.
- Right.

Like that there.

The ship.

It was swept up on the tracks.

But the vegetation has grown back
around there.

Canada goldenrods.
They grow on barren land.

- Really?
- Yes, Canada goldenrods.

Any untended land has those
yellow flowers.

- That's what it means!
- Yes.

They're pretty.


So it's no good there?

- Right.
- Not good at all?

- There's nothing there.
- I know.

Pines are hardy.

Last Sunday we dug around
those trees

and laid down activated carbon
and fertilizer.

Because there're no new shoots.

I see.

Thanks for coming today...

Sir! Are you in farming?

Yes, after I retired.

For 35 years or so I was at Hitachi

making semiconductors.

Oh, really?

Then I farmed.

I had an organic farm.
It was coming together.

Then I lost it
when this happened.

It's unrecoverable.

I'm still affected. I don't
know what to do.

- Where are you now?
- Kashima.


- With my family.
- Right.

Tell me, will this be a good movie?

Will it be good?

I'm not confident.

It makes me feel cautious.

There are the nuclear
power plant employees.

And the victims of
the nuclear accident.

It was nice to see them volunteering
on our production.

Our assistant was driving some
of us to the location...

Is the assistant's name Okitsu?

The man in the back, Mr. Sato was
from the power plant.

He apologized to the local guy
from Sun Mall.

About the nuclear accident.

The assistant was crying as she drove.

The Sun Mall guy told Mr. Sato
not to be sorry.

Sato was glad to have this

He was happy to be able to apologize.

He thanked me for the

And the Sun Mall guy kept saying
that apologies weren't needed.

It was a drama.

Then they carried
the dolly tracks together.

And they closed the shop doors


They did! I was watching.

The power plant man and
the Sun Mall guy side by side.

In respect to each other.

That was an amazing moment.
You missed it!

While you shot me smoking
by the sea.

That's what documentaries are about.

It's time.

And cut!

He's one of the Men of the Year.


- The most prominent.
- Of 2014?

Suzuki from Ghibli and
Shun Oguri?

- And Gekidan Hitori.
- What did he do?

People must say that about me!

- Maybe he's the best director.
- And you're the best comedian?

That'd be an honour.

Thank you!

Let's practice for the shoot.

Hold it near your chest.

And your motto, Sion Sono?

OK, I have "Quantity."

From my belief,
"Quantity over quality."

Quality makes people cautious.

So I go for quantity so I
can advance.

I just keep making things and

one of them might be good.

39 feature length movies

The next stop is Kozakai.

Passengers should disembark
from the front door.
Toyokawa city, Aichi Prefecture

When the light's on
press the button to open.

I used to get off at the wrong stop.

And skip school.

I'd hang out there.

It's lost land...forgotten.

For a virgin, everything's
an adventure.

Everything he does.

High schoolers should be virgins.

Anyone who wasn't,
won't understand me at all.

That's our gate.




My sister's odd.

- Odd?
- Yes.

Much more than me.

She really is.

She must be really unusual.

The thing is, she has no
social awareness.
Sono's local friends

You're better?

I'm a model of social awareness.

No sign of her with all that knocking.
That's my sister for you.

The house will be knocked down
next month.

- It'll be demolished.
- What a waste...

No, I won't miss it.

The sooner the better.

There she is!


- The crew.
- For what?

For the movie.
Roka, Sono's sister

The lights are broken.

It's so dark.

We can't shoot in this.

The light's on.


Look at this.

I made this, like when I was 14.
A shark.

It's Jaws.

It had teeth!

They're lost.

It had teeth.

I put them together for you.

They bring back memories.

All of them.

The entire series!
These are the scary ones.

The Bandits' Under the Sea
Witch's Coffin

I remember these...

All these Osamu Tezuka mangas.

I was obsessed with Osamu Tezuka
when I was 12.

Published by
Mushi Production!

I could sell them for lots of money
if I tried.

- Phoenix?
- A Mushi Production edition.

Osamu Tezuka published them
through his own company.

- Lion Books too?
- A Mushi Production edition.

- They all are.
- Apollo's Song?

Very rare.

You're clueless.

Yes, they all look the same.

I had more!

She's our great-grandma!

- A portrait?
- Yes.

None of us met her.

It's so damp.
Is it humid in English?

- The manga he sold me!
- Sold you?

- He drew this in elementary school.
- 2nd Graders' Best Friend

"Free 2nd Grader Kit!"

The Drifters...
2nd grade, alright.

"In the February issue...
A Hideki Saijo poster!”

I'd love that.


I remember...

- He sold it to me.
- How much?

- 30 yen.
- Reasonable.

The other one is 240 yen.

- One was really expensive.
- 800 yen.

Was he a nice brother?


We weren't really like
a typical brother and sister.

There was an age gap.

- How much?
- 5 years.

I don't think our relationship
was very equal.

But he played with me
and took me on his bike...

And the manga he gave me.
For a fee!

I read those.

You had to pay your brother?


Was he strange?

No, but he became a little strange
in high school.

- Junior high essays.
- I remember that!

- Why?
- I was blown away.

Junior high?

It's about a cat.

- Cleopatra?
- It's marked.

About when the cat died.

Here it is.

"Chapter 1." Nobody else at
school had chapters.

Like a movie.

Love Exposure.

It's already started.

"If I'd only had less curiosity."
"Damn it" by Sion Sono

That's a hook.

Was he 15?

He was 14!

- "Damn it" is an unusual title.
- Chapter 2, 3, 4...

Chapter 4, "Dead."

And it ends with "Damn it."


- At 14.
- I thought he was a genius.

If I'd been praised for this,
maybe I'd...

- Chosen a different path!
- Yes, a novelist.

But I was ignored.

But your essay was selected.

I'm talking about my environment.

The people around me, like my parents.

If they'd been more encouraging...

I might have been an author.

Contrary to his regrets...

Sono's movie reviews from his
junior high days.

"The Exorcist Comes to Japan!"

"Shampoo, Great, no less!'

"The Sound of Music"
"West Side Story"

"Jaws, featured article"

"I am the star"

"Telltale evidence of excitement"

"Ticket stub squashed in my
sweaty palm"

"Ouch! It could have been tighter."

"The Godfather Part II is great
but it drags at 3 hours."

"79/100. For all the money spent."

"The 3rd Annual Sion Awards"

"Godfather Part II. Sorry, Jaws!"

"Robert Shaw, Best Actor
Faye Dunaway, Best Actress"

"Steven Spielberg, Best Director.
He made Jaws at 27!"

"Director Sion Sono announces"

"his first movie."

"Patra and the Kitten, 3 minutes."

"On an incredible 2,000-yen budget"
"Audience response, 'It's not bad“

"Written, Directed, Shot, Produced,
Composed by Sion Sono"

"From Sion Sono, a genius"

"Starring and directed by Sion Sono"

I Am Sion Sono, 1985

Give it to me!

It was on the web at one point.
Naoto Tanobe
Editor in Chief, Eiga Hiho magazine

If you searched Sion Sono

you got "The 3 wackiest maverick filmmakers."

Sion Sono, Katsuyuki Hirano
of Kantoku Shikkaku

and Sho Fujiwara, who'd never
shot a commercial film.

Those 3 were known for
their radical movies and

they got attention.

Sono is basically a poet so
he writes monologues

and shot a movie to it.

Hirano had been a manga artist
with a strong visual sense.

Fujiwara wanted to be Bruce Lee

so he shot kung fu movies at dams
and abandoned buildings.

Sion Sono should have become
famous between 1990 and 93.

If Why Don't You Play in Hell?
Love & Peace, The Whispering Star

were made in the 90s, it would have
changed Japan's cinema history.

I'm sure.

No producer realized
his potential.

Those who knew Sono was great,
didn't have money.

It took Sono 2 decades to make the
movies he wanted to do.

It took way too long.

Tokyo Gagaga!

Sono sought other mediums of expression
besides movies

Tokyo Gagaga!

In 1993 he organized
Tokyo Gagaga, a performing group

Sliding on the face of
this boring Sunday.

Where should I go today?

A visit from the producer Sono worked
with in his 30s.

So this is your studio!
I wondered what you were up to.

Takaharu Yasuoka, Producer

These are paintings for
a solo exhibition.

He was broke. If he called me,
I knew he wanted to drink.

So I'd go to Koenji
where he was living then.

We drank and I'd pick up
the bill.

- I thought he was an alcoholic.
- I am!

Hearing him now, I remember
listening to him 20 years ago.


I was arrogant then.

I was not open.

Right now I feel completely
open to your words.

Every word you say

I take in with all my senses.

But 20 years ago

I was pushy and would say,
"I know a better way."

It was like "I know what you mean
but I'm here!"

- Right.
- Yeah.

So I rejected whatever you said.

But being rejected like that
intrigued me.

It was unique!

I want the films I make
to be interesting.

But not because I want approval.

Just to be interesting!

That leads to destruction.

Who cares if it follows the
conventions of Japanese cinema?

Forget the year-end top 10 movies!

Something interesting comes from
the rubble of conventions.

But I wasn't so resolved
in those days.

I was also broke and I was nobody.

I think you already had
that mentality.

When you brought me
the idea for The Room

I thought you were crazy.

The 20-page screenplay was
a collection of poems.

1 poem on each page.

I wondered how it could
translate into visuals?

"Scene 1, a man stands."

- It was "Scenery 1."
- Right.

- Like a book of poems.
- I lost that!

I still have mine. If I dig through
some cardboard boxes...

I read it and thought
it was interesting

and would make a great movie.

I saw it as a 30-minute film
but when we talked

he said it'd be 90 minutes long.

And you talked about grain.
The film grain.

I was impressed by
your film knowledge.

It'd be black and white
and grainy.

We had those really long takes

with moving clouds and
the subtle grain movement.

It was stupid!

It was something!

The Room, 1993

The Room

That was career suicide!

Bicycle Sighs did well so

I got some attention.

I was offered to direct some teen pics
like The Kirishima Thing.

Then I went for a grainy movie instead.

After that everybody stayed away
from me for 10 years.

I could see that coming but
I shot The Room.

So I was exiled and had to
sit quietly for 10 years.

- But I...
- It was worth it.

The Room was a blessing.

It was the ultimate experiment.

So the production companies
stayed away.

So I wrote screenplays including

Why Don't You Play in Hell?
and Love & Peace.

20 years later those films got made.

You were shooting Bad Film.

You can say that it all worked
out in the end but...

It tested my patience.

At one point I couldn't stand
not being able to make a movie

so I bought a second-hand
Aaton camera.

I recharged it and went to sleep.

I woke up to see
clouds instead of the ceiling.

Like, that line in Imagine.

The battery from the camera...

It combusted and the
apartment caught on fire.

- Your apartment burned down?
- Yes.

I thought the Movie God must
really hate me but

I had to choose,
to make movies or not.

I was definitely at a crossroad
in my life.

I mean...

I lost my savings on the camera
and I lost my apartment.

Something was telling me to
quit movies.

It's the opposite.
Movie Satan came.

That's what I mean! It's not
Movie God but Movie Satan.

I prayed to the wrong guy!

It was Satan, not God.

I know what you'd say.

You'd say, "Give me a break!"

Not tight, like some women.


- All the nuance...
- I love it.

Can you rewind?

We can lose this shot.

Oh, good.

The nail scene.

Shibuya, Tokyo

OK, guys.

Hey, Ellie!

You're very close to Sono.
What do you have in common?
Ellie, Chim_Pom

We're friends. Really good friends.

He wants to transcend expression
and ideas into the unknown.

To see something new.

He wants everyone to be happy
as a result of his actions.

"Happiness" sounds too cheap...

But that's what his movies
do to us.

In that he's insanely gentle.

I tell this to everyone.

He's completely sane and


Who's in charge?

- What's this?
- Who's in charge?

It's Sion.


He's famous, Officer!

Can you put that away?
We're working.

- It's not vandalism.
- Pedestrians are in shot.

Hachiko the dog, #3

is in Fukushima.

I don't know how long
the dog has to wait

but when people are repatriated
there'll be a reunion.

Hachiko is waiting for that day.

The Fukushima theme has no end
for you?

Well, it should end.

I want it to end.

It's not that I want to continue
but I always return.

It's not my mission or obligation...

But when I search my soul

to express myself,
I'm drawn there.

This is cool.

It's huge.

I love the feel.


It has its own mind.


It dries in 1 hour in summer.

"Tokyo Gagaga”

Koenji, Tokyo
June, 2015

I've been here all morning.
"Hey, Hachiko"


They're not poems...

The day is so slippery
If the city had an edge

I'd get my hem caught
and struggle

The Whispering Star
Sono's solo exhibition

Sliding on the face of
this boring Sunday

The day is so slippery

If the city had an edge
I'd get my hem caught and struggle

Sliding on the face of
this boring Sunday

The day is so slippery

If the city had an edge
I'd get my hem caught and struggle

Sliding on the face of
this boring Sunday

The day is so slippery

If the city had an edge
I'd get my hem caught and struggle

"I'm no longer here."

Sliding on the face of
this boring Sunday

The last day of the shoot
September, 2015

Now can you get up?

And stand here.

I want to leave everything behind
then move onto 2016.


I want to put it behind and

leave Japan.

It's Chapter 2.

I'm 21 years old again.

- A long way back.
- Why 21?

21 is right before

I left home for Tokyo.

So I'll be 22 next year.

- I'll be 22.
- Wasn't it 32?

I thought 32 is too old.

You have to be in your 20s
in Hollywood.

If you're over 30 you're out.

You're associated with the work
you do in your 20s.

In my opinion.

This is the first one I worked
on when I got the studio.

July 20, 2014.

It was actually past July 20 but...

July 22, 2014.

August 14, 2014.

August 17.

November 6.

November 8, 10.

November 11, 12.

12:22, November 16.

12:22 AM.

December 4.

December 11.

November 29, 2014.

Now it's 2015. January 12, 16.

February 7.

February 11, 17, 20.

Now it's May 27.

June 3.

That's the last one.
I got super busy.

Was it February?

- We shot here.
- This one?

One of these dates.

I painted some today too.
Here, February 11.

It's not about if it's good or bad.

Like a movie.

From here I went to July 20...

Life isn't about good or bad.

Paint, express and live!
That's good.

You got that?

Sion Sono

Shota Sometani
Fumi Nikaido

Naoto Tanobe
Takaharu Yasuoka

Ellie, Chim_Pom

Megumi Kagurazaka

Directed by Arata Oshima

©2016 "The Sion Sono” Film Partners