Tea time with The Chicken
How autobiographical is the story? Or is it based on someone else you know?
The story itself is an adaptation of a short story entitled “An Afternoon On November 3rd” by Naoya Shiga. However, I interpreted this 100-year-old story to be set in modern-day New York. The characters are largely modelled off of the characters in the original story, but the details of them in the film takes many cues from my own life as a Japanese American. I have experienced the perspectives of both Hiro and Kei, as an outsider living in a different country, and as someone visiting a new country.
How familiar are you with the shooting location? Is this somewhere you live?
I was born and raised in New York, so I am very familiar.
What would you hope the audience makes of the film’s message?
Taking cues from the original short story, I tried to expand on the ways that structural violence permeates our present-day lives. The uneasiness that arises from a growing police presence, limited access to healthcare, and gentrification by the well-meaning liberal middle-class echoes through the film. This kind of entanglement that we are all a part of is something that I hope the audience can take away from the film.
Would you say you enjoy working in a particular genre on a particular type of subject?
This is not necessarily a genre or subject, but I seem to enjoy creating stories that have a certain distance from the characters. It’s a kind of distance that brings broader things into the picture, whether it be the weather, or natural phenomenon, or a city.
What do you think the future holds for short films?
I hope the short film will be seen more as a medium that stands on its own, instead of a stepping stone to a feature film.
If we were to go back into lockdown, what cultural or artistic delights would you recommend to alleviate our boredom?
Besides watching films? Cooking!