Guest in Focus: Hirobumi WATANABE – Poolsideman

Welcome back to Guest in Focus, where we ask a few questions of some of our visiting featured filmmakers about their background in film. Today, we look at the influences of Hirobumi WATANABE, director of Poolsideman.  


When and how did you first get into filmmaking?

I made my first real film 10 years ago in 2007. I attended the film school Japan Institute of the Moving Image, and my graduation work was my first film. It was called Hachigatsu no karui buta. My first feature length film was the comedy Soshite dorobune wa yuku (And the Mud Ship Sails Away). I’m very grateful that it was shown at Nippon Connection.

What were your first film projects?

Soshite dorobune wa yuku, an independent film, for which we founded the film production company FOOLISH PIGGIES FILMS. There were four of us who made the film in our hometown Otawara in Tochigi Prefecture.

Where did you get the idea for Poolsideman, and what story would you like it to tell?

Poolsideman is based on an incident caused by a Japanese person in March 2016. The case was never solved and was soon forgotten, but it shocked me and made a very deep impression on me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This incident made me want to think about the Japanese identity in this world, which is increasingly characterized by violence and terror.

Were there any funny or difficult situations you experienced during the shooting?

The pool from the set was the pool where I had really worked myself. So the shooting was interesting but also difficult.

What do you think about the current state of Japanese cinema?

There are certainly many problematical aspects, but I myself live in the countryside and keep making independent films without anyone ever asking me about it. So I don’t know much about the situation of the Japanese film industry. I’m not really interested about it either. So I just want to keep making films the way I think is right.

Which three Japanese films from the last decade do you think everybody should see?

1. Pecoross’ Mother and her Days (Azuma MORISAKI)
2. Postcard (Kaneto SHINDO)
3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Isao TAKAHATA)

Do you have an all-time favorite film, and if yes, is there a particular reason why it’s your favorite?

RHAPSODY IN AUGUST (Akira KUROSAWA). I like all of Akira KUROSAWA’s works, but I’ve seen this film over and over again since my childhood, and it’s very special to me.

Who is the director/filmmaker that influenced you the most?


Have you ever been to Germany before, and if so, what was your favorite/strangest/funniest experience?

I had the opportunity to participate in the Nippon Connection Film Festival with my film AND THE MUDSHIP SAILS AWAY, and it was a lot of fun. I especially remember the city tours in Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn, and Brühl. I am still grateful today to all the members of the festival team, the audience, Martin (who accommodated me), and Günther, who guided me through Frankfurt. Unfortunately, I can’t come to the festival this time, since I’m in the middle of the shooting for my new film, but I would like to drink beer and apple wine in Germany again.

Translated from the original Japanese.  

Poolsideman will premiere tonight at 22:30 in the Naxoshalle theater. The movie is eligible for the Nippon Visions Jury Award, as well as the Nippon Visions Audience Award.


映画作りを始めたのはいつ頃ですか。どのようなきっかけでしたか 。



大田原愚豚舎(FOOLISH PIGGIES FILMS)という映画製作団体を立ち上げての自主映画です。

『プールサイドマン』のアイディアはどこで得たものですか。また、その映 画の中で、監督が表現しようとしているのは、どのようなストーリ ーですか?








一番好きな映画がありましたら教えてください。また、その理由は なんですか。




ドイツに来られたことはありますか?もしありましたら、一番好き な・変な・面白い経験はなんでしたか。


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