Finding Fukue
October 9, 2021 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Three years ago, Canadian musician Jessica Stuart tried again to find a lost friend in Japan. The resulting twenty-minute short film about her quest is a touching story of brief childhood friendships that echo through a lifetime, the experience of being an outsider, memories meeting the present, how and why we fall out of touch, and what that means for us. Last year Stuart and the filmmakers came together remotely to reflect on the film and its reception.
posted by rory (7 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This struck a chord for me—and from the sounds of their follow-up piece, for many others—because I had my own lost friend between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, from during my family's four-month stint in another country when I was twelve. What is it about brief, intense, time-limited friendships at that age that has such a powerful impact? And does the always-connected online world mean that these stories of losing touch for years will become less common? (My own old friend and I found each other again thanks to early-'90s email directories.)
posted by rory at 8:56 AM on October 9

I started watching, expecting to be charmed, but stopped.

I ... don't know about this. I've had people from the past try to track me down when I did not want to be found by them. Pictures of me as a child on TV, with all kinds of social pressure to reconnect with someone I haven't talked to in decades? No f'ing thanks.

The respectful thing would have been to try to make contact through a Japanese intermediary, but without the quest in Japan, it wouldn't have made for much of a documentary.

And there's the issue of her friend having grown up in poverty and, well, not being from the global North. Feels a bit like an exercise of privilege, even with the best of intentions.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 12:30 PM on October 9

Sorry to hear it bothered you. That isn't how the documentary plays out, though; the second half is quite moving. Stuart did try to make contact by herself in the intervening years, but didn't have the resources to succeed.

And if Japan isn't part of the global North, I don't know where is. Perhaps the fact that Japan and Canada are comparably rich countries was why that imbalance you suggest didn't occur to me.
posted by rory at 1:03 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]

While the question of whether someone wants to be found is always worth considering, it's a little condescending to treat the country with the third largest economy as some kind of impoverished and exploited place.
posted by tavella at 9:15 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]

Of the course the problem is you can usually only find out if someone doesn't want to be found by finding them. It does look like Fukue was happy to reconnect with her friend at least, if ambivalent about the documentary part of it.
posted by tavella at 9:17 PM on October 9

I do think it was unfortunate that TV coverage got pulled into it, because that stays behind even if the documentary is geolocked. Hopefully no one local feels like they need to make a further story about it, at least unless Fukue later wants to. But it didn't seem if Stuart deliberately did that, it's just that it's such a small place that word got around quick. Heck, just talking to a couple of people on the street and they were "hey didn't your dad teach here decades ago?"
posted by tavella at 11:58 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Wow, this resonated. I had a dear friend from Tokyo during 2 years at school. We kept in touch for 20 years and made plans to see one another when I moved to Asia. She was a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific, working in Hong Kong. Then her emails mentioned moving back to Japan to deal with a health problem, then her email bounced, now I've spent more than a decade worrying and wondering what became of my friend. Michiko Yamaguchi, if you're on Metafilter ... I love you.
posted by cyndigo at 10:41 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]

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