VdR 2017. Review of “Familiar Tale” by Sumie García

Mexican visual artist and filmmaker Sumie García’s latest short documentary, “Familiar Tale”, premiered in the short documentaries section of the Official Competition at the 2017 Visions du Réel Film Festival in Nyon, Switzerland.

In it, Yukio Saeki, an 86-year old man, tells us the story of his life: he arrived in Mexico as a young man with a passion for photography. “Familiar Tale” delves into his memory and photographic archive. Indeed, his story interweaves various threads such as the Japanese immigration to Mexico and par extension, immigrants’ assimilation, the coexistence of two different cultures in post WWII era and the powerful changes and economic growth that Mexico underwent from 1955 onward as well as the development of the photographic technique. García’s short doc is deeply seeped in Saeki’s nostalgia, documenting the entire life of a man who somewhat wryly admits he burnt a lot of photographs, and that after almost a whole lifetime spent in Mexico, his Spanish is still mediocre.

However, behind his breezy nostalgia hides a more significant and life-changing memory: images of war in Japan come back to life and along with them, the memory of that fateful day when, walking towards the beach, he witnessed something falling from above on Hiroshima. The sky over the ocean went ablaze and the course of human history changed forever. That image has never abandoned Yukio Saeki…That is one photograph that he could not erase, destroy or burn.

“Familiar Tale” is a highly compelling, different and poignant cinematic ode to memory and images.




Production: Mexico 2017

Producers: Santiago de la Paz, Lucía Álvarez and Alejandro Quintero

Director: Sumie García

CinematographySumie García

Music:  Josue Collado

Editing: Sumie García

Cast: Yukio Saeki

 Color – 20 min.

Premiere: 24/04/2017 (Visions du Réel)

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