In the 2022 edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival’s NIPPON DOCS section, we are presenting Allegra Pacheco’s film SALARYMAN.
The artist and photographer Allegra Pacheco was born in Costa Rica in 1986. She studied at the Wimbledon Faculty of Arts and at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her works have been exhibited in Japan, Spain, Costa Rica and the United States. Her first documentary film SALARYMAN had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival in 2021.
We thank Allegra Pacheco for this interview.
You work with a variety of media from photography to painting. Why and at which point did you decide to turn the topic into a film?
Yes, I have always worked with several mediums since I was a kid and I switch between mediums according to what I wish to express. Since the subject matter that I speak about in Salaryman is very vast and touches a variety of social, historical and economic issues, as well as some very personal perspectives that could only be recounted from the first-person experience of salarymen themselves, I thought a documentary film was the most comprehensive and neutral way I could share what I learned in my investigation of the topic.
In your film various narrative strands run parallel to each other, including your personal story. What was the idea behind that?
I believe there is no such thing as one universal experience, so I felt that depicting various points of view was the most honest way to show what I learned. I also feel that life experiences are subjective, and even though I have personally felt the discontent of modern working life, I am still a foreigner in Japan, and I am not a salaryman. Since my aim as a documentary film-maker is to depict what I learned objectively, I decided the most impartial way to tell this story was to allow different people with vastly different experiences to share their personal accounts in their own words. I felt this way the viewer could draw their own conclusions regarding the subject matter.
You approached the topic coming from a different cultural background and included female perspectives. What influence did your position have on gaining access to your interview partners and the depiction of the salarymen?
Honestly being a foreign female was a very mixed experience. In some instances being a foreigner gave me access, because locals are used to tourists asking questions. Also when our production team was trying to film a night out, being a female helped in making an initial approach if we were interviewing salarymen in a bar or in the street. However, when attempting to dig deeper, or gain access to interview CEO’s for example, being a foreigner was perceived as suspicious and our interviews were often politely declined.
When we did gain access to people for interviews we were very lucky to have found wonderfully receptive, open and honest people who have become our friends in the process of making this film.