My time on Misima is getting shorter and shorter. When this week began, I had three weeks or twenty one days. By the time you read this update, I will only have two weeks or fourteen days. I'm aware of my time now in a more hyper sensitive way. Not because I'm counting the days to return home but because I still want to film so much. I've had to come to terms with reality. There are some things on my Shot List that just won't be shot—at least not on this trip. Therefore, I sat down with a calendar and really made some hard decisions about where I should be pointing the camera in order to capture the events that are essential to the narrative. That being said, I have wondered if my third trip in the Fall should be extended from the original plan of two months to three. Just going on instinct, I am beginning to feel like the film could benefit from a longer stay on my third and final trip.
My focus this week has been mostly on DD (the single mother) and KK (the old woman, who wears a grass skirt). I really felt the disadvantage this week of not knowing the local language, Panamisima. Even though I have an assistant with me, and even though he has been asked to translate, I still feel I am at a disadvantage. assistant seems to be really good at translating my English question into Panamisima but he often forgets to translate their response back into English. For example, if I ask him to translate the question, "What flavor of ice cream do you like?" He turns to the person and speaks the question in language. I listen to the response but it seems like a very long answer for such a short question. Then, the assistant laughs and says something back to the person in language. The back and forth seems like something interesting is being said. Maybe the person is telling a story about the first time she ate ice cream? But when the conversation between the two language speakers ends, I turn to the assistant and whisper “So, what did she say?" He looks me in the eye and whispers back, "She likes Vanilla." Lord knows there was more being said between them than that. Needless to say, interviewing someone who speaks a language you cannot is more challenging than I imagined it would be. While filming KK this week, I really had to exercise extreme patience during the interview and just pray silently that my inquiries wouldn't be lost in translation. I hope I got lucky and got some good stories from her. Additionally, I'm not certain yet how the process of translating all the footage in order to begin the edit is going to be done. What will I do back in California? Jordan will be able to partly assist, perhaps, but not in depth because he lost a lot of time on the island and wasn't able to master the language as he had originally intended.
Work with DD has been both technically challenging as well as surprisingly interesting at the same time. DD has been separated from her 15 year old daughter, CC, for nearly six months. CC has been going to school on another island nearby called Paneati Island and DD is in the process of writing a letter to her daughter. The last time she got word from her daughter was back in April. Getting "word" is sort of like hearing something through the "grapevine." A person on one end sends "word" that is then passed from one mouth to the next until it reaches its intended destination on the other end. Now imagine a grapevine that extends across the sea between two nrighboring islands. In other words, DD heard through the grapevine from her daughter, which means even DD and her daughter could be lost in translation. We all know how unreliable the grapevine can be.