Kimi Takesue and Onlookers: The Journey and the Quest

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FFD 2023

A journey always leaves a lot of lingering questions. So does Kimi Takesue’s journey while traveling in Laos. Through the documentary Onlookers (2023), Kimi not only recognizes the presence of culture as a tourist attraction, but also tries to record what is recorded and missed by the tourists there. There are things that remain and linger throughout the journey, even though tourists keep leaving and returning. Onlookers (2023) was screened at Bioskop Sonobudoyo on Friday, December 8, 2023 at 16:40 WIB. The following is a summary of the Q&A session with Kimi Takesue after the screening.

How do you expect the next ten years for tourism? Is it possible that tourism can be positive or can be sustainable?
I’m sure that globalization is increasing around the world. In terms of the impact of tourism, it probably will increase too. It was interesting for me to see that, but the film, of course, is from the perspective of a tourist like myself. I have no deep understanding about the culture there. But, as an outsider, I try to appreciate the culture and the rituals, like Buddha’s procession, by this film. This film is looking at how it (tourism) in the way from an outsider perspective. So, I’m looking at the film with that intention. The film is exploring, obviously, tourism, but it’s not meant to be such a message about tourism. I really try to serve the complexity of the experience there. I think the desire to learn about other cultures is quite universal. Some people have the opportunity to travel, do that acknowledge such as me, but I try to really capture the whole spectrum of the experience in terms of tourism.

Can you give tips and tricks regarding video-making? What is your most difficult part of the process of video-making and how do you cope with that? How did you choose which clips that have storytelling value to be put in the video?
I’m positioning you as a traveler, so if you have been to understand the language, great. If you don’t, which for me it’s the case, a lot of this film is about how we should construct the meaning of the outside language. So, you rely on other senses. You become much more into body language, gesture, facial expression, also color and sound. But on the other hand, everything that happens in the frame is completely spontaneous and unpredictable. So, there is no direction that is actually happening. All of these moments are completely spontaneous. Is this easy? In a way it seems simple, but it’s very difficult to actually find the kind of moments where the movements look perfect, including the color, light, and all of these factors. So, I’m basically waiting to find the right moments. This is a film that I made entirely long ago.

I’m wondering about your reflection of making this film because you’re always holding the camera there. How do you feel about being there and making this film?
I think that the film is about the importance of being present. It obviously is looking at a lot of the ways when people get distracted. People are traveling a thousand miles to Laos but they are just taking the pictures. Like why are you going there if you just hang out with your group and do the same thing that you always do? We need to be present.

How long do you need to wait for the scene to happen?
I often wait for a while. I am not going with a clear intention like, “I am making a film about tourism”. The starting point for me is that, “I want to travel to Laos”. Then, I bring some equipment like a camera and then see what happens there. Then, let me respond to what I find interesting that’s unfolding. So, that’s the way I am working. It is a very intuitive way and when you’re (make a film) alone, you don’t have the pressure. Sometimes, I’m just waiting because there is no guarantee that anything interesting is going to happen. I’ll keep waiting for the moments.

Covered by Hesty N. Tyas on December 8, 2023.