Guest Blogger – Kyoko Yamashita
With the start of the fifth annual Show Me Justice Film Festival just a few weeks away, our guest blogger continues with a remarkable post by filmmaker Kyoko Yamashita, whose animated film The Little Match Girl is an official selection of this year’s festival.
When I was a child in Japan I used to like reading – Andersen´s The Little Match Girl and other classic, tragic children’s literature stories. And, I wept copiously, without realizing that I was forming my sense of justice. But, in my naivety and ignorance, I thought they were only fictional stories from the past.
When I was about 10 years old my family migrated to the countryside of Brazil, where the public schools had half day classes. My sister and I had a very hard time adapting. Puerile feelings stayed in the past. But, years later when I saw children selling things and begging at the crossings in the same big cities the Andersen´s tale emerged from, my childish imagination awoke, that until then had been asleep in the bottom of my conscience.
Most Brazilians don’t know the story. Some people told me children shouldn’t read this tragic tale. I disagree because children feel things with more intensity, and that’s what enriches the character and forms a sense of justice. When already an adult, a reading hardly affects their formation; an indigent child’s death is no longer news in the world.
When I had the opportunity to make this short, I decided to fit the tale to present day for a young audience. This makes it different from many other movies based on the same tale. Naturally, there are different elements because these are different times and so are the desires and temptations. But, the childhood’s purity is immutable; even when doing not so “pure” things, childhood keeps its essence.
I tried to tell the story with no gratuitous and manicheaist emotional appeal for the reason that the story is on a systemic problem. So, all of us take part of it, whether we want to or not. I didn’t use any dialogue because I thought it was redundant, so interpretation is left to the viewer. It will be an image reading instead of textual one.
As the result of Brazilian government social programs, I haven’t seen street children lately, at least in Porto Alegre, where I live. But, inequality has deep historical and cultural roots in Brazilian society, and the latest events in the political scene indicate that things could get worse.
Justice is a luxury good in this country, and all over the world, where there are still a lot of little match girls, 170 years after Andersen wrote the tale.