I’ll start today a new feature – Japanese documentary of the week – a weekly and very short post to introduce an important work of non-fiction cinema, or at least a documentary that I believe is worth seeing and discovering. I’ll focus on works that are either available to watch online (legally) or available on DVD/BD (with English sub).
The fist movie is Impressions of a Sunset (日没の印象) , a short diary-movie/self documentary/artistic home-movie made by Suzuki Shiroyasu in 1975. Suzuki is a poet and a professor who worked also for TV and who, from the mid 70s, started to expand his artistic world in the cinematic realm. Impressions of a Sunset is probably, together with Fifteen Days (1980), his most famous work. Deeply inspired by Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (Jonas Mekas, 1973) Suzuki:
has gotten his hands on a “CineKodak 16” (a pre-war 16mm camera) at a second hand camera shop, and in sheer delight he films his beloved wife, films his newborn baby, proudly takes his camera to work to film his colleagues, and then films the Tokyo sky at sunset.
(from Self-Documentary: Its Origins and Present State, Nada Hisashi. You can read the complete article here)
Partly experiment, partly diary and partly home-movie, this short work has, even today, a special appeal for me, maybe the grain of the film (16mm), maybe the freshness of the approach, or maybe the subtle experimental touch we can feel here and there (the dots, the reflections, etc.). Below you can see Impressions of a Sunset legally, it is linked, together with some of works, on Suzuki’s official homepage. It’s in Japanese (no English sub) but even if you don’t understand the language you can feel the magic.