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“It Was as if the Film Had Given Us Permission to Connect”: Director Christopher Makoto Yogi | I Was a Simple Man

I Was a Simple Man

How did events of 2020—any of them—change your film, either in the way you approached it, produced it, post-produced it, or are now thinking about it?

I Was a Simple Man is a film that is inspired by my personal experiences with death in the family, and the making of the film was a way for me to confront and process these experiences. But one of the most unanticipated aspects of developing our film was that whenever someone would read the script or listen to me speak about the film, folks would immediately tell me a story about someone dear to them that they had witnessed pass on: a sister, a father, a best friend. It was as if the film had given us permission to connect over this profoundly beautiful, but unspoken, experience. These stories were always so tactile, almost secretive, and it occurred to me if it were not for the film, we likely would not be sharing these experiences with one another. I started to realize the potential of this film to turn the cinema space into one in which the audience could maybe meet the film halfway, bringing with them their own personal stories of loss. With the many difficult and tragic events of this past year, this potential has been thrown into sharper relief, as we all try to process, together, the unbelievable amount of loss and trauma we’ve all suffered. I hope the film can provide space, even if just a small one, for people to come together, share, and hold that space for one another.

(Check back daily during the festival — new answers are uploaded on the day of each film’s premiere. Read all the responses here.)

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