Satō Tadao is without any doubt one of the most renowed film critics and theorists living and working in Japan today with a career spanning more than 50 years, a scholar also known and respected in the West through the translations of his writing and some of his books. In the last year Sight & Sound poll – the greatest documentaries of all time, Satō was one of the voters, here are his picks:
Nanook of the North (1922)
The Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1946)
Chozo Obata, Sueo Ito, Masao Yamanaka, Dairokuro Okuyama
Night and Fog (1955)
Minamata:The Victims and Their World (1972)
Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975)
Echigo Okumiomote (1984)
The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987)
Kabuki-yakusha Kataoka Nizaemon (1994)
Acid Ocean (2012)
An interesting list through which I could discover some works I had never heard about before like Fatherless and Echigo Okumiomote, it was also a pleasant surprise to see listed, among some “classics” of Japanese non-fiction cinema such as Minamata:The Victims and Their World or The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches, Kabuki-yakusha Kataoka Nizaemon, a work by Haneda Sumiko, a director I’m very fond of and a filmmaker who plays an important role in the history of Japanese documentary.
On a not-so-related-note, in the March issue of Sight & Sound a piece on Sergei Loznitsa’s Maidan by Nick Bradshaw opens with a collage of stills from different documentaries on anti-government protests. Among them a still of Sanrizuka: Heta Village (Ogawa Pro, 1973), a nice sign that Japanese documentary is slowly infiltrating (again?) in the international cinematic discourse, at least this is my hope.