Momo Kirimichi: I sometimes have moments of confusion what reality is like and what the dream is like. 

Jen Bush exaines the works of Momo Kirimichi

When watching Ms. Kirimichi’s work, you may feel as if you’re in the Twilight Zone.  “Also, as I mentioned in the previous question but my work is always something dreamy,  and more surrealistic. It is because I believe reality and fiction are always confronted but resonate with each other. I think what humans imagine inside of their heads and what they believe surely exists in this world.” 

     “I sometimes have moments of confusion what reality is like and what the dream is like.  There are many harsh and scary realities that we hope they are a dream, on contrary, there are many sweet dreams that we want them to be real. They all relate to our perspective and unconsciousness. So, for example, I mentioned that my stories are always dreamy but I don’t make them a dream. If the character believes what they think they are always real. What people believe makes their today’s life and individual. I want to express people’s perspectives through media whether they are happening in  their minds or in real life. That is my concept of making films.”

      The United States offered Ms. Kirimichi a more comprehensive education in filmmaking.  “The reason why I decided to come to the United States is because I thought I wanted to learn filmmaking again from a different perspective. When I studied film in Japan, I still didn’t feel educated enough to make professional creative decisions. Then after I came here, I learned how to choose props meaningfully, frame characters based on the situation the characters are placed in , how to navigate actors in an understandable way, and  how to analyze a character’s personality from a psychological perspective. Now, I believe my creative choice is more logical and true to  the story that we want to tell.  And I still want to seek more.”

     In simply living life, we are presented with challenges throughout our existence.  A person who lives in a country that they are not native to is sometimes presented with unique challenges.  For a creative person, challenges translate into artistic opportunities.  “I have many things that I faced these past few years in this country. The first thing is, of course, COVID, then Asian hate and now it’s inflation. Two years of lockdown was simply difficult …like everybody else. So, I made Bathroom Universe and I am good.  These stories are completely different films but it’s talking about the same thing. Being stuck in one place and struggling to get out of their comfort zone. And they realize that the thing that they struggle with the most is their mindset, not the situation they are  facing. They eventually decide to confront themselves and get out of their comfort zone. The whole COVID situation inspired me to create those stories and it is actually related to myself. After I experienced COVID, I felt very timid going outside and communicating with people. Because I came to the United States in 2019, I only spent a short time in this country and after the pandemic, I just felt everything is different and felt very insecure about being here. However, as I was facing myself throughout making these films, I put a little hope in everyone and myself that we always can come back to what we want to be. We can always get out of our worries and overcome hardship.”  

     Foreigners and women sometimes struggle to fit in and gain equality in any industry.  It wasn’t either of those things that Ms. Kirimichi found difficult, but she found empowerment in America.  “To say it in one word… to be different from everyone. To be in America, I have to speak up myself that how I am different from everybody else and how I am precious to  society, and industry. We need to continue claiming who we are. I never thought of things like that in Japan. In my country, there is a saying’ the nail that sticks out gets hammered down’.  It means people that stick out too much get punished. Literally, people don’t accept a person who is special to everybody. When I was a student, teachers checked our manner of wearing a uniform from head to toe, how we tie our  hair, the length of the skirt, and sometimes even the color of our underwear. It is not a diverse country so everybody forces themselves to be the same as everybody else and  be modest, quiet and not stand out. I don’t follow their custom seriously, but I still  found it’s difficult to adopt the different culture, apart from what I learned. It is very difficult to change how we are and how we grow up, but as I am in this country, I learned a lot about how it is ok to be myself, true to who I am and it is a cool  thing to be special.”  

     Ms. Kirimichi found a positive outcome from the pandemic.  “As we experience the pandemic, we realized how much we can globalize through media and the internet. I think it is very good for the media industry since we have more chances to export and import films and motion pictures. We have more potential to be found in different countries. I am hoping that I can be a bridge between Japan to America and more of many different countries throughout my work.”  

     Ms. Kirimichi will continue to explore many avenues of filmmaking as her two films get ready for release.  “My next move is bringing my upcoming two movies to the public and opening the field of art direction wider. My upcoming films will be completed very soon this year. Bathroom Universe and I am good. Both are shot in New York. I am expecting them to bring many awards at film festivals and hopefully, get more chances to continue the next works.  I also want to touch many different fields, such as art directing. Except for narrative film, I tried many different fields doing art direction last year, but I would like to open more windows to any projects outside of a motion picture this year.”  


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