STOP10 Nov 2017: 'I Want To Go Home' by Wesley Leon Aroozoo

On the 11th of March, 2011,Yasuo Takamatsu lost his wife to the tsunami during the Great East Japan earthquake. Since that fateful day, he has been diving in the sea off the coast of Japan every week in search for her. Filmmaker and Lasalle College of the Art lecturer Wesley Leon Aroozoo read about Mr Takamatsu on the Daily Telegraph in 2013, and was greatly touched by the story. He tracked down the journalist who wrote the article, who then connected him with Mr Takamatsu. After a year of communicating with Mr Takamatsu via emails, with the help of translator Miki Hawkinson, a documentary was born.

I Want To Go Home is Wesley's debut feature documentary. It is a heart-wrenching and honest look at love and its consequences. Wesley, a filmmaker with 13 Little Pictures has been making short films for more than 10 years, known in his early filmmaking days for kooky, off-beat short films like Kissing Faces and Pak and Sons Travel Agency.

He has also branched into writing in recent years, having written Bedok Reservoir (Math Paper Press, 2012) as well as a novel accompanying his feature documentary going by the same title. I Want to Go Home is published by Math Paper Press (Booksactually) in dual-language, English and Japanese. The interesting aspect of thisulti-disciplinary project is that both the novel and documentary have different approaches, giving the reader or audience  a different perspective into Mr. Takamatsu's life.

Wesley is thankful for funding support from the Tokyo Filmex Next Masters Program (Japan) as well as IMDA who supported the project under the Development Assistance Fund. The documentary was also supported by the kind help of companies such as Panasonic, Go Pro and Parrot who supported with equipment. Companies such as Hilton and Mercure in Japan, also chipped in with supporting with hotel stays. 

The feature documentary is also supported by over 10 people who donated their footages of the tsunami destruction that was used in the documentary.

In addition, the film features the animation of the award winning Zhuang Brothers who animated scenes of Mr. Yasuo Takamatsu's vision underwater.

I Want To Go Home was first screened at the Busan International Film Festival which just concluded and will be screened at the upcoming 28th Singapore International Film Festival.

Here is our quick chat with Wesley.

How was the reception of I Want To Go Home in Busan, and what have you learnt about your own film there?

It went well and the Korean audience seem to like it. I was very touched as after the screening, some of the Korean audience asked me for autographs. I believe this is the first time in my life being asked an autograph! I learnt from my screening that the film culture in South Korea is much advanced and they do have a great sense of appreciation for Art and Films.

What was your greatest difficulty when filming I Want To Go Home?

The greatest difficulty was trying to react quickly to situations while filming and making the best out of it. It was raining (very heavily) most of the time when we were in Onagawa so we had to think on our feet and make the best of our filming. And to some points use the rain to our advantage to tell a story.

What do you wish would be the audience's greatest takeaway when they watch it?

I hope they are inspired by Mr. Takamatsu's story and with that be empowered to believe in themselves especially in moments when no one else believes in them. I also hope the audience learn more about natural disaster evacuation methods and how it can be improved.

Images courtesy of Wesley Leon Aroozoo

Check out the film trailer here:
Catch I Want To Go Home as part of Singapore Panorama at the 28th SGIFF.

2 Dec, Sat, 4.30 PM
National Museum of Singapore
International Premiere
Singapore, Japan, 2017, 60 min
Wesley Leon Aroozoo will be in attendance
Ticketing details here

Interview by Alfonse Chiu

For the full list of November 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.

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