Satoshi Kon, the Illusionist: an encounter with Pascal-Alex Vincent

Picture of the movie Sathoshi Kon : yumemiru hito (Satoshi Kon, the illusionist) © DR


Selected for Cannes Classics, the documentary Satoshi Kon: yumemiru hito (Satoshi Kon, the Illusionist), directed by Pascal-Alex Vincent, takes us on a journey between Asia and the West, following in the footsteps of the animation filmmaker Satoshi Kon, director of, among others, Perfect Blue (Pâfekuto burû), Millennium Actress (Sennen joyû) and Paprika (Papurika). An encounter.

How did you discover Satoshi Kon’s work and what influence did it have on your relationship to cinema?

I was lucky enough to discover Satoshi Kon’s work at the cinema with his first film, Perfect Blue. At the time I was already familiar with Japanese cinema. What was really interesting was that this was the first animated film where entrance was prohibited to those under 12. I immediately said to myself that this must be an auteur.

Satoshi Kon takes us on a journey between fiction and reality, between the dimensions, and you take us on a journey, too, with this documentary, between Tokyo, London, Paris and New York…

That’s true, it was important to me that the film not be completely Japanese, that it be peripatetic so that it could open a window and show how the work of Satoshi Kon irrigated international cinema. To show that he wasn’t just a Japanese animator but a filmmaker who was both timeless and universal.

Satoshi Kon said that his presence was in each of his films. Would you say the same about yourself in this documentary?

Yes, I think my presence is in the film, in the sense that it shows my ambition to teach, which is that of a bridge builder. It’s really important to me that this film speaks to those who are not familiar with Satoshi Kon. It’s a film for everyone.

“Visionary. There’s no better word to describe Satoshi Kon.”

How did the shooting take place?

It was Satoshi Kon’s producers who contacted me to make this film, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his death. But we made this film in fits and starts, in a disjointed way, because of the pandemic. And always with this question in mind: are we going to manage to finish the film? I had interviews in different countries, it was really complicated.

Would you say that Satoshi Kon’s commitment, his satirical takes on technology, work and celebrity, make him a visionary of our contemporary epoch?

There’s no better word to describe Satoshi Kon. Before anyone else, he saw the coming of the dominance of the Internet, of the mobile phone. He had already understood that twenty years later, we would have multiple lives: a real life, a virtual life and the life of our dreams.