Joji Koyama and Tujiko Noriko's Kuro (2017) is exclusively showing on MUBI from June 26 - July 26, 2018. The soundtrack to Kuro will be available in a forthcoming release by PAN.
In presenting Kuro at festivals and screenings, we tried not to talk too much about the film in a way that might fix things down for the audience, particularly where the story is concerned. After a few screenings, we were struck by how audience members would sometimes describe scenes or events in the story that for us do not take place definitively. Our hope is that this is facilitated by the space and active role offered to the audience.
The original incarnation of the film was in some ways a more orthodox narrative film (we had planned to make a film based on what is now the narrated story). Once we decided to split the film into what might be described as two parallel layers—the narrated story and the visual story, we found that it created a third space, an ‘in-between’ space where the audience is free to make their own projections.
The premise for Kuro stemmed from our desire to portray the volatility of the ways in which we grapple with what is unknowable. As we wrote the script, we became interested in our need for narrative to make sense of our lives, and how stories become a kind of fragile architecture through which we navigate our understanding of the world. Whilst looking after her paraplegic lover, Romi recounts a story that becomes increasingly precarious—the characters and their relationships, the reliability of her narration are all at risk of falling apart. We wanted to explore and dramatize the push and pull of Romi’s struggle to give form and meaning to her experience.
What you see on screen is minimized to allow room for events that unravel in the story to have an ambiguity. We became quite obsessed with the idea of nurturing the ambiguity of the Kuro character, not for the sake of being ambiguous but to retain its presence as something unknowable, to not let it fully become one thing or another- maybe this is what haunts the film.
There was a fair amount of improvising with the way the layers of narrative work together both during the shooting and the editing. We tried to think of the structure of the film like two pieces of music that sync in and out of one another; the sonic palette of the film became a glue for us to piece together the disparate formal devices in the film.
Kuro is also a film that was born out of a close friendship and collaboration between us. Although we respectively have different artistic backgrounds, our roles were often interchangeable and undefined, to the point where we sometimes forget who did what. We wrote and shot the film mostly in a small apartment in the suburbs of Paris where a handful of us were all staying and living together. As such there was an intimate and at times claustrophobic atmosphere during the making of the film, something which hopefully bled into the film for the better.
—Joji Koyama and Tujiko Noriko