A couple weekends ago, Patema Inverted and Time of Eve writer/director Yasuhiro Yoshiura popped along to Scotland for a wee visit and a screening of Patema Inverted at the Filmhouse cinema in Edinburgh. Oddly enough, the weather that Saturday was pretty good as everyone settled in for the screening and subsequent Q & A session afterwards. There was a great showing on Saturday afternoon – especially considering the majority of the audience had already seen the film at the Scotland Loves Anime film festival in October. There was also a handy little signing session in the Filmhouse cafe for fans of Yoshiura-san and his work. I even spied a Time of Eve coffee canister from the Kickstarter being signed! Very cool.
After the screening, we all settled into the Q&A session, headed up by Andrew Partridge – he started off with some questions and opened it up to the audience. There were some seriously well thought out questions from the audience, and I took as many notes as I could in order to share some of the interesting answers with all you who couldn’t make it. So kick back, relax and read what the man himself had to say about Patema Inverted! Below are some of the questions and answers given – paraphrased as I was taking notes.
One of the earliest questions from Andrew was: where did the idea for Patema Inverted come from? To answer, the director reminisced about his childhood staring up at the sky and imagining, wondering what it would be like if the sky above really wasn’t the sky. What if he was on the ‘ceiling’ relative to the sky and ground? That’s where the idea came from – a childhood fancy that stuck with him to this day.
In terms of the film, for those who have seen it, it deals with a lot of complexity – not only with the story itself but also with the use of gravity. There are rules to gravity applied in the film, how did he manage to keep it all straight? On this point the director was clear, despite the complexity of the story and the narrative, it was important to make the rules with regards to gravity very simple. That way, that thread stays neat throughout the film.
A huge part of the film is the sound design – I’m not sure if many are aware of this but the man in charge of said sound design is Akira Yamaoka, the man behind many an eerie feeling in games such as Silent Hill. Was this Yamaoka’s first foray into film and what was it like working with him? Akira Yamaoka has actually worked on other feature films before taking part in Patema Inverted. In fact, he was in charge of the sound design for Silent Hill, the film! Hot tip for those of you viewing: the siren in Patema Inverted is the same siren sound in Silent Hill – pretty cool, huh?
If you’ve seen the film, or read anything about it, you’ll be aware of the fact that there is a lot of Esperanto usage in the film – the text, songs etc. Which is a rather unusual direction for a film, especially a modern anime, to take. Why Esperanto? Why a practically dead language that no one in the audience will understand or appreciate? As with everything Yoshiura-san does, there is a very good reason behind the decision. Using Esperanto, a language that is pretty much dead despite best efforts to re-ignite popularity and interest, was a creative decision: it highlights the fact that the truth is long buried and practically lost – unattainable to the current inhabitants of both the underground and overground worlds. It represents hidden truth and a lost world. Esperanto seemed ideal for this.
One of the first questions from the audience was a bit of a belter if I’m honest. He pointed out the fact that there is an incredible amount of detail in the film – so much attention is paid to even the smallest detail. It’s certainly one of the main reasons to watch it on the big screen – and definitely watch more than once! Did Yoshiura-san ever think that maybe there was just too much detail in the film? To which Yoshiura-san laughed (seriously, this movie has an insane amount of detail in it! – Ed) and pointed out his own personal motto: the spirit of the film is in the detail. Too much detail is just the right amount of detail – it helps the film come across to people.
Another interesting question was raised by an audience member questioning the apparent theme of subversive politics – was this the main idea when Yoshiura went into making the film? It didn’t start out with any kind of agenda, says Yoshiura. It started out as an adventure story that was meant to be engaging, interesting and exciting. But stories and attitudes evolve over time and over the time it took to make this film, the story itself and grown incredibly.
A final, and I think most interesting question came from yet another audience member who pointed out that Yohsiura-san’s characters in Patema Inverted and in Time of Eve tend to suffer from fundamental differences. That is, the two main characters are so fundamentally different they either literally come from different worlds or are human and android. These characters tend to have to find a way of working and living together to bring about a story – which is a great theme to have in a film. Will this theme carry on into the new project, Harmony?
Yoshiura-san’s wry smile at this point pretty much gave a lot away. The whole fundamental difference between characters was not intentional – at least not from the start and not a theme that necessarily will mark works, he pointed out. But yes, these two projects are great examples of stories involving different people learning to communicate and work together. It’s admirable. Harmony doesn’t necessarily follow this theme – it’s a bit different. It’s more bitter – and it’s a 25 minute short.
With that, the Q&A was drawn to a close. Yoshiura-san was then escorted off with his awesome Scotland Loves Anime festival prize of some pretty neat whisky to the Filmhouse cafe for a signing session.
All in all, it was a pretty fantastic screening with a very interesting audience! Great questions were asked and answered – the team from Japan were also pleased to see so many families in the audience as well. If you were one of the many in attendance, thanks for showing up! If you are not Scotland/Edinburgh-based, you still may yet get a chance to see the film in cinematic glory in a theatre near you.
Patema Inverted will be in select cinemas from May 2nd across the UK. Dates and venues are still to be confirmed but you can keep up to date on our Facebook page, Twitter or via the Patema UK website.