Motohachi Seiichi is a photographer and documentary filmmaker whose works and activity and I’m referring here especially to his achievements in non-fiction, although presented at international film festivals, have not yet reached the audience and the recognition they deserved, in my opinion of course.
He’s the author of, among others, Nadja’s Village and Alexei and the Spring, works screened at the Berlin International Film Festival, but also the producer of other interesting documentaries such as A Village That Changed Into Water (Onishi Nobuo, 2007) or Tale of a Butcher Shop (2013), the latter listed last year by Kinema Junpo in its annual best bunka eiga section.
His new documentary, 『アラヤシキの住人たち』(Arayashiki no jūnintachi) will open in some selected cinemas in Japan on May 1st and was shot during a year at the Kyodo Gakusha farm, a cooperative community which hosts people from a variety of backgrounds such as mentally disadvantaged persons or who are tired of the city life. Raising animals, growing vegetables and making cheese with ecological and organic methods, staying in this community means for its people also exploring a different style of living. It seems a documentary worth mentioning and following for a series of reasons, the topic of course but also the style adopted, at least from what we can glimpse from the trailer, is a move “back” when documentary in Japan meant to be first of all a visual work and the filmmaker cared about framing, light, editing etc. and wasn’t just a branch or a development of video journalism…..