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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

COLUMN: 'A Documentary Is a Trigger'

The director of 61 Hectares - Kizuna on why he wanted to make the film.

As a filmmaker I've always been interested in the subject of discrimination, in people living on the periphery of society. I've made television documentaries about social minorities, circus folk, street entertainers, blind artists, the homeless, a Korean woman living in Japan. The theme of my work has been to look at how marginalized people get by and to discover what really matters in life.

The theme of 61 Hectares is not leprosy per se, but about how this couple, who have been marginalized by this disease, help each other out. The wife who can't see, the husband who has problems with his hands…they have a way of looking after each other that really opened my eyes to the bond that exists between them.

ENCOURAGEMENT

There is no "story" as such. The film shows how they live, their affection for each other, and how they transcend the disease. My hope is that people will draw encouragement from their relationship. A friend of mine who saw the film said he was envious of Taka and Yasue. He said they have something the rest of us have lost.

There were things that I wanted to film but because of privacy issues we agreed on a line that I was not to cross. For example, I had hoped to accompany Taka and Yasue on a clandestine visit to their hometowns to visit their ancestors' graves. I also wanted to film their relatives. But that is really difficult because of the stigma attached to the disease. People don't want it known that there is leprosy in the family.

I want people to think about what is important to them as human beings.

Let me be clear. I'm not a leprosy activist, I'm just a filmmaker. I'm not trying to push a particular agenda. A documentary is a trigger to make you think. I want people who see 61 Hectares - Kizuna to think about their lives, to think about what is important to them as human beings.

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AUTHOR: Kazuyuki Nozawa

Kazuyuki Nozawa is a film director working with International Motion Picture Co., Inc. in Tokyo.