Yu is about 18 when her parents separate (her father will move far away, to Hokkaido) and the disorientation of suddenly living in a “broken” home is compounded by the experience of starting summer cram school. Yu doesn’t feel very comfortable in her own body; she gets into trouble for wearing tracksuit bottoms to school rather than the regulation skirt. Four male assholes in her class ridicule her “masculinity” and torment her for receiving love letters from a younger girl in the school. Iizuka simply follows Yu through that summer, showing her sustaining friendships with the hopeless Yoshiki, a gay boy who’s dyed his hair auburn, and the transgendered dancer Haruka, who gives her the school uniform she wore when she was a boy.
Intervista al regista Kashou Iizuka e al protagonista Riku Hyuga di Barbara Stowe su jccabulletin-geppo.ca:
Does the title of your film signify anything that an English speaking person wouldn’t pick up on?
The title doesn’t have any different meaning, it’s the exact same title translated into English, but it is deliberately brought in twice, once at the beginning and again at the end. The reason for this is that at the beginning of the film there’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen, there’s anxiety, and it leads you into the story; at the end of the film there’s a new beginning being told, and therefore “our future” is about to happen.
You’ve said that this film is very autobiographical, so I was wondering if any of the bullies portrayed in the film, that is the actual bullies in real life, have seen the film? And if so, what was their reaction?
No, as far as I know they haven’t, but there’s one character “Masumi” in the film who I hadn’t told about the film, and I just happened to meet Masumi at a screening, so that was a big surprise for both of us.
How did Masumi react to the film?
She had very positive comments. She said she loved the film, that it was very interesting. However, she would not elaborate on any of the experiences brought up in the film…perhaps purposefully.
We know from statistics here that LGBT teens are much more likely than other teens to attempt, and even commit, suicide. I wondered if in Japan, if you know either anecdotally or statistically, what the situation is like there?
I know of some figures in the USA that have been released. In Japan, perhaps because so many people are still in the closet, I don’t know if there are any statistics.
Your name, “Kashou Iizuka”…I know some people here change their names when they feel safe to be who they really are…is this the name you were given at birth, or have you changed it?
This is not my real name. I was born with a different name and am legally known by another name, but I have always been known to those around me by this name.
(To Hyuga): Is “Riku Hyuga” the name you were born with, or is it a name you’ve chosen?
This is a completely different name, an actor’s name.
Does it have any special significance?
It was a name given to me by a classmate, who studied with me.
What was most difficult for you, in portraying the main character?
We’re different individuals, so the most trouble I had was portraying the director’s experience, rather than my own.
(To Iizuka): Can you compare and contrast this film to other LGBT films, such as for instance the Swedish feature released in 1998 that became quite a famous teen coming-out movie, Show Me Love? That was the North American title, it had a different title for European release.
Two major points that are unique perhaps to this film and serve to educate the public: the first is that this film portrays teens who are younger than the characters in most coming out films I’ve heard of that have been screened worldwide; the second is that in Japan right now, and over the past few years, there are a number of celebrities who are female in a male’s body (women who dress as men), the opposite to what I have experienced. This is widely known in Japan—Japan is learning that there are these people—but there is very little knowledge of the reverse.
One difference in Our Future to other coming out films was the way you emphasized the importance of a supportive community for LGBT teens…such as the other teens in the movie who were gay or transgendered or lesbian, that your protagonist hung out with. In the Q & A last night you said that LGBT support is not open in Japan but that people often find it through the internet. I wonder if there is any danger of threat or violence to LGBT teens through these connections, or if teens would feel safe attending such groups?
Hyuga: One thing that I have found, sharing my experience, is that there is no danger per se but a lot of these relationships remain as internet friends, and we never meet in person, so there is always the doubt in the back of the mind, is this person I’m talking to really in the same position as I am, or is the person just doing this out of curiosity maybe? Is he or she really transgendered? And there’s always this distance that you’re keeping, perhaps because there’s an anxiety that there might be danger there.
What about your families? Are they supportive?
Iizuka: As partly revealed in the film, I talked to my parents when I was in high school. For the first two to three years there was very little communication…both sides needed time…but now my parents are very supportive and they did come see the film.
(To Hyuga) What about your parents?
I haven’t told my parents at all yet. Especially with the film coming out, I’m going to have to.
This must be very difficult!
The main thing is that there’s a local film festival coming up, actually next week, and the first screening of the film is October 10th, and my parents are coming to see it. So I have to talk to them.
I feel for you.
(To Iizuka): About what you were saying regarding females in male bodies being a more acceptable thing in Japan, (i.e. in celebrity culture) while the opposite remains taboo; here, we have a famous singer k.d. lang, who sometimes performs dressed as a man, so when you’re talking about celebrities she comes to mind. Also we have “Drag Kings”…are there “Drag Kings” in Japan?
These celebrities are known in public as comedians, almost ridiculed. For instance children could be ridiculed in school if their parents were known as Drag Kings. These people aren’t on TV to reach out to the public, but more as comedians. It’s well known, but it’s not as understood as it should be and therefore the public still has a ways to go to fully accept these people as having their own rights.
The book that explained about gender identity issues was very important in the film. Is there any official government acknowledgement of LGBT issues in Japan? Otherwise, where would a book like this (that looked like an official government publication) come from? An LGBT support group?
It’s not an official government publication but a publication put together by five individuals and some of these individuals are doctors who represent the government, so yes, there is some acknowledgement by the government of these issues. There are legal issues covered in the book, and it is put out by a publisher that is well known, not a small press.