DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

In 95 AND 6 TO GO, a hardy widower’s memories become intertwined in the fictional screenplay his granddaughter is writing, revealing the fine line between life and art, rumination and imagination.   Kimi Takesue’s feature documentary captures the cadence of daily life for Grandpa Tom, who was born to Japanese immigrants to Hawaii in the 1910s. Amidst the solitude of his home routines - coupon clipping, rigging an improvised barbecue, lighting firecrackers on the New Year - we glimpse an unexpectedly rich inner life. As his granddaughter queries his history of love and loss, a stalled film project becomes a collaborative inquiry into mortality and how one constructs a personal narrative with memories that span almost a century.   Shot over six years in Honolulu, this intimate meditation on absence and family expands the vernacular of home movies to consider how history is accumulated in the everyday and animated with sparks of humor and creativity.

While growing up in Hawai’i, I never knew my Japanese American grandfather, Tom Takesue, harbored creative interests. I never saw him read a novel or talk about art. For me, he existed on the fringes; he was a pragmatic, hard-working, authoritarian grandfather who consistently reinforced the importance of family obligation and a steady job.

Unlike my grandfather who had limited educational and career opportunities, I was able to attend graduate school and pursue artistic ambitions. When I was at the peak of development on my first feature film project, a cross-cultural love story, I was shocked when my grandfather became intrigued with the screenplay. While slurping noodles or munching on toast, he offered suggestions about a catchy title and happy ending.

 In 2007, after the death of my grandmother, I returned to Hawai’i to provide support and assistance.  My grandfather was far from sentimental about her death, already keen to find a new companion. My optimism surrounding my feature film project had faded as I waited for the producers to secure financing. My grandfather expressed his fear of dying alone.

We were both in periods of transition and emotional loss. During this time, we finally came to know one another; I offered him company and he offered advice on my film project. His frank critiques reflected his concerns about love, aging, and the recent death of his wife. He also shared personal stories of a life filled with loss and regret, in stark contrast to his romantic and idealized suggestions for my screenplay. Although his imagination was animated by the screenplay he displayed increasing skepticism about my project coming to fruition, warning me to move on with my life: “If you wait for this film, you will wait forever.”

Life and artistic paths are typically filled with digressions and setbacks but sometimes lead to unanticipated discoveries. 95 AND 6 TO GO explores personal and creative loss and how loss is countered with perseverance. It is a film about unrealized ambitions and the ways we respond to disappointments. The film also tracks how my grandfather moves from resistance to involvement and even encouragement to make a film about him. 95 AND 6 TO GO is a film about an unlikely artistic collaboration between a granddaughter and grandfather and how an inter-generational bond is forged through art.