I’ve often written, here and elsewhere, about Ogawa Pro and the documentaries made by the collective, first in Sanrizuka – documenting the resistance of the peasants against the construction of Narita airport – and later in Yamagata. A couple of days ago through social networs I found out that finally all the works produced by the collective will see the light on DVD, a project by the Japanese label DIG. First, on June 2nd, we will get 3 of the early documentaries: A Sea of Youth (青年の海, 1966), The Oppressed Students (圧殺の森 高崎経済大学闘争の記録, 1967) and A Report From Haneda 現認報告書 羽田闘争の記録, 1967) and later, presumably in one or two years, all the 20 documentaries made between 1966 and 1986 by the group. The news is big, at least for me, and although I have sample DVDs of many of the movies shot in Sanrizuka and Yamagata, copies kindly given to me by the festival people in Yamagata, it will be nice to have the films “neatly transferred” on DVDs, the samples I have being a copy of a copy of a copy of a VHS. But here comes my biggest concern about this otherwise great news, will the transfer be really a proper one? Almost all the documentaries are shot in 16mm and I’m not really sure about the condition of the originals, in an ideal world we should see them first lovingly restored and then made them available for the home-video release. But the huge debt left by Ogawa complicates everything, what we’re likely to get is something close to the DVD of Kamei Fumio‘s Fighting Soldiers, a bare bones release, watchable of course but with a poor transfer, in the particular case probably due to the condition of the source material. The docs will not have English subtitles, adding them would have helped to “spread the word” of Ogawa Production to a wider international audience, but again, we don’t live in an ideal world and we should be happy and content with what we will get. Be that as it may, I’m pretty excited about this and I’ll write again about the project, the image quality, etc. when I get more information or in June, the time of the first releases.
You can preorder the DVDs here.