Aya Koretzky's Around the World When You Were My Age is exclusively playing on MUBI from May 28 - June 27, 2020 in MUBI's Undiscovered series.
In 1969, Jiro Koretzky, my father, after six years without a vacation, decided to stop working as a young businessman in Tokyo, Japan, to tour the world for a year. He was then 30 years old.
Recently, during the tidying up of the house, my father and I found a metal box, heavy and forgotten since we moved to Portugal in 1992. That box was full of negative photographs of his youth. There were images of my young father that I had never seen before and most of them were photographs he took during his trip. Upon discovering them, I felt something strange because I was the same age as he was when he took the photographs. Observing each image of the negative, I wanted to know their travel stories and I felt an enormous need to record them in the form of film. Those 35mm film negatives revealed varied landscapes, from hills to seas, villages, towns and cities, to the faces of inhabitants and other travelers.
In addition to these negatives there is also a travel diary. This diary consists of a relatively thick volume, composed of handwritten, dated pages, with a detailed description of the events, accompanied by some drawings. These materials—the photographs and the diary—served as an essential basis for the realization of this film: the photographs are the window of your gaze and the pages of the diary reveal your experiences, adventures and thoughts.
From Asia to Europe, Africa and North America, by boat, car, hitchhiking, train and plane. Having made this journey alone, the images bear witness to his inner adventure. Through landscapes and places suspended and immortalized by his photographic gaze, the film also describes the relationship that has been building between us, father and daughter. It seemed very curious to find the box full of my father's negatives, corresponding to the biggest trip he took in his life, when he was my age. It made me think of this coincidence and for the first time I looked at my father as someone the same age as me. Consequently, I felt a closer relationship with him, as if I could understand him better in relation to the dreams he sought to realize and the options he took in life. On the other hand, it made me think about the differences and similarities of our life paths and question whether until now I have done everything I wanted, if I managed to accomplish as many things as he did, etc.
The film I made earlier entitled Yama no Anata started from the need to understand the reasons that led my parents to leave my homeland, Japan, where we lived, and move to Portugal. The whole process of making the film allowed me to reflect on several aspects related to that moment in our lives that drastically changed course, a subject that perhaps was still unresolved in my conscience. It was a process of “self-reflection” that helped me better understand who I am, why I am here and what led me to make certain decisions throughout my life. The film was, in a way, a pretext to deepen this theme and allowed me to ask some questions to my parents which I would not have the courage to do otherwise, to confront me with sensitive subjects and to put my finger on the wound, then try to heal it, or just become more aware of what had happened in that period of time. In this sense, my interest in re-exploring a personal theme in this film starts from that same desire: to reflect, to confront, to question, to understand, to know myself better and those around me, those I like, among them my father. I arrived at 30 with the conviction that I know my father well, and that I may never have questioned such a thing. But today I realize that I know little or nothing about him. Making this film has also been a way to fight against my greatest fear, which can be both beautiful and frightening, which is the ephemerality of life. Far from plunging into regrets, I take the opportunity to value what really matters. Within this film is hidden a timid declaration of love disguised as stories about experiences, memories, affections and experiences. In view of the ephemerality of life, this film is the result of an urgent will. And I believe that the film celebrates it with the poetry that cinema can offer.