On the Road: A Document ドキュメント 路上(Tsuchimoto Noriaki, 1964)

One of the towering figures in Japanese documentary, Tsuchimoto Noriaki began his career as a documentarist, like many of his generation, at Iwanami Production in 1956. Tsuchimoto was since his university years a very active student, involved in the establishment of Zengakuren, member of the Japanese Communist Party and eventually expelled from Waseda University in 1953 for political activities. Mostly known in Japan and in the rest of the world, and rightly so, for his life-long series on Minamata and the mercury poisoning caused by Chisso Corporation, a total of 15 films in more than 40 years, Tsuchimoto in his long career tackled with his movies many different issues. Another Afghanistan: Kabul Diary 1985 and Traces: the Kabul Museum 1988, two movies set and about Afghanistan in a crucial time for the country, Nuclear Scrapbook (1982) on the danger of Japan’s nuclear policies, and On the Road: A Document, are some of his best non-Minamata works. It’s on this last one that I’d like to focus my attention today.
At the Beginning of the 60s Tokyo, and Japan in general, was in turmoil and experiencing huge changes, on the one hand the country was trying to leave behind and “forget” the tragedies of war, the consequent American occupation and more than 20 years of militarization and nationalism, on the other hand Japan was projecting itself and its people at maximum speed towards the future and a new phase. This “double” movement implied, among other things, starting a series of infrastructure projects that would completely alter the landscape of urban and suburban areas of the country, especially in preparation for the big international showcase of 1964, the Tokyo Olympics: streets, highways, the launch of the Shinkansen (the famous bullet train), and the devil’s pact with atomic energy. All changes that would shape, for better or for worse, the country’s future and made it what it is today.
On the Road was made in this whirl of structural, social and political changes, let’s not forget the huge demonstrations against the ANPO treaty in 1960 and those that would shake the country in the following years, a period of turmoil that is reflected in the film’s production history, as Zakka Films site puts it:

On the Road was originally commissioned as a traffic safety film with the Metropolitan Police as one of the sponsors. But it actually had a double existence: in reality Tsuchimoto was also working with the drivers’ union. When a police official finally saw the film, he dismissed it as “useless—the plaything of a cinephile,” and so it was never used for its original purpose. While winning numerous awards abroad, including at Venice, it was shelved in Japan for nearly 40 years.

The production is also a strong statement of Tsuchimoto’s artistic independence and creativity as a filmmaker, “The film was conceived as an experimental dramatized documentary” and “Tsuchimoto had amateur actors play the principal roles and, because the sound and image were recorder separately, asked drivers to reenact their duties, meeting and conversations”*. For all these reasons On the Road turned into a formally and highly creative documentary and a very different one, in style and concept, from those of the Minamata series that would follow in five years. Alienating music, fast editing and a cacophonic cityscape rendered through a jazz-like rhythm bring to mind the city symphony movies of the beginning of the 20th century, reimagined for and in the 60s. A snap-shot of an era of change for Japanese society framing a mutating urbanscape with a free-style touch that makes it highly watchable and fresh even for today’s viewers.

While it’s important to praise and introduce all the movies of the Minamata series to the broadest audience possible, it’s also vital not to overlook some of Tsuchimoto’s works made outside of his life-long series and by doing so affirming his importance and role in the history of Japanese documentary.

On the Road: A Document is available on DVD (with English subtitles) at Zakka Films, of course!

* from the DVD booklet

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Best Japanese documentaries’ poll – results

More than 2 months have passed since I launched the best Japanese documentaries of all time poll, it’s time to wrap things up and to take a look at the results. Thanks everybody for your votes, for your support and for helping me spreading the word. sdgblogBefore digging into this fascinating trip through the history of Japanese non-fiction film, let me add some overall thoughts.
On the negative side, I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get many people to vote, and this is partly my fault, the blog is pretty new and relatively unknown and I’ve been lazy and shy about pushing it through the social networks world. Besides, Japanese documentary is a niche subject inside a niche (Japanese cinema), and there are not so many people interested in documentary film as an art form, so I should have expected this. Many people, most of them cinema professionals, were kind enough to decline my invitation, honestly admitting their lack of knowledge in the field. After all, one of the purposes of the poll was indeed to check how much exposure Japanese non-fiction movies have in the world of cinephiles, so I shouldn’t really complain too much.
On the positive side, I was really surprised by the deep knowledge of the voters, most of them, I have to add, cinema professionals: festival programmers, critics, professors, and so on.
Below you’ll find the list, when possible I’ve added some information about each movie’s availability on DVD/BD.
Thanks again everyone, feedback and comments are, as always, welcomed.

1)Included in their lists by 40% of voters
Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 「極私的エロス・恋歌1974」 (Hara Kazuo, 1974)
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Available on DVD (with English subtitles).

2)Included in their lists by 33% of voters
Children in the Classroom 「教室の子供たち」(Hani Susumu, 1954)
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Available in Japanese in this Iwanami DVD box

Tokyo Olympiad 「東京オリンピック」(Ichikawa Kon, 1965)
Tokyo_Olympiad_Ichikawa
Available on DVD in Japanese or with English sub, but the Criterion Collection edition is out of print.

Minamata: The Victims and Their World 「水俣 患者さんとその世界」(Tsuchimoto Noriaki, 1971)
Minamata_Victims
Available on DVD with English sub by Zakka Films

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On 「ゆきゆきて、神軍」(Hara Kazuo, 1987)
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Available on DVD with English sub

3)Included in their list by 27% of voters
Without Memory 「記憶が失われた時」(Koreeda Hirokazu, 1996)
Without_memory_Koreeda
Not available

4)Included in their lists by 20% of voters
A.K.A. Serial Killer 「略称・連続射殺魔」 (Adachi Masao, Iwabuchi Susumu, Nonomura Masayuki, Yamazaki Yutaka, Sasaki Mamoru, Matsuda Masao, 1969)
AKA_serial_Killer
There used to be a VHS in Japanese….

Fighting Soldiers 「戦ふ兵隊」(Kamei Fumio, 1939)
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Available in Japanese on DVD (the quality of the transfer is pretty low though). Here my analysis of the first scenes.

A Man Vanishes 「人間蒸発」(Shōhei Imamura, 1967)
A_Man_Vanishes_Imamura
Available on DVD with English subtitles by Master of Cinema and by Icaruswith 5 bonus documentaries made for TV by Imamura in the 70s (reccomended).

The Shiranui Sea 「不知火海」(Tsuchimoto Noriaki, 1975)
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Available by Zakka Films with English sub.

Antonio Gaudi 「アントニー・ガウディー」(Teshigahara Hiroshi, 1985)
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Available with English sub by Criterion Collection.

5)Included in their list by 13,3% of voters
For My Crushed Right Eye 「つぶれかかった右眼のために」(Matsumoto Toshio, 1968)
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The work is in the Matsumoto Toshio DVD collection – volume 2 – released by Uplink (now out of print?) in Japanese.

Goodbye CP [さよならCP] (Hara Kazuo, 1972)
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Available with English sub by Facets Video.

Narita: Heta Village 「三里塚・辺田部落」(Ogawa Production, 1973)
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Not available on DVD or VHS

God Speed You! Black Emperor 「ゴッド・スピード・ユー!」(Yanagimachi Mitsuo, 1976)
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Available in Japanese on DVD (used and expensive).

The Cherry Tree with Gray Blossoms 「薄墨の桜」(Haneda Sumiko, 1977)
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Available on DVD (only in Japanese) by Jiyū Kōbō or in this Iwanami Nihon Documentary DVD-BOX

Magino Village – A Tale / The Sundial Carved With A Thousand Years of Notches 「1000年刻みの日時計 牧野村物語」(Ogawa Production, 1986)
magino1
Not Available

Embracing 「につつまれて」(Kawase Naomi, 1992)
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Available in Japanese with English sub in this DVD-BOX

A (Mori Tatsuya, 1998)
A_Mori_Tatsuya
Available with English sub by Facets Video

The New God 「新しい神様」(Tsuchiya Yutaka, 1999)
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Available on DVD in Japanese

Memories of Agano (阿賀の記憶, 2004 Satō Makoto)
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Available on DVD with English sub by SIGLO.

Campaign 「選挙」(Sōda Kazuhiro, 2007)
Campaign_Soda_Kazuhiro
Available on DVD with English sub.

Best 10 Japanese documentaries – my list

As a reminder that you still have a month to join the poll “Best 10 Japanese documentaries of a time” I’ve put together my list. I left out many good and inspiring documentaries made in recent years (Genpin, No Man’s Zone, Flashback Memories and others) and I’ve cheated twice, but anyway:

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Fighting Soldiers (戦ふ兵隊, 1939 Kamei Fumio)

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Children Who Draw (絵を描く子どもたち, 1956 Hani Susumu)

AKA-SerialKiller
A.K.A. Serial Killer (略称・連続射殺魔, 1969 Adachi Masao, Iwabuchi Susumu, Nonomura Masayuki, Yamazaki Yutaka, Sasaki Mamoru, Matsuda Masao)

motoshinkakarannu
Onikko (鬼ッ子 闘う青年労働者の記録, 1969) and
Motoshinkakarannu (沖縄エロス外伝 モトシンカカランヌー 1971) by NDU/Nunokawa Tetsurō

Minamata_Victims
Minamata: The Victims and Their World (水俣 患者さんとその世界, 1971 Tsuchimoto Noriaki)

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Sanrizuka: Heta Village (三里塚 辺田部落,1973) and
Magino Village – A Tale / The Sundial Carved With A Thousand Years of Notches (1000年刻みの日時計 牧野村物語, 1986) by Ogawa Pro

akamata
Song of the Akamata–The life histories of the islanders, Komi, Iriomote Islands, Okinawa (海南小記序説・アカマタの歌-西表・古見, 1973 Kitamura Minao)

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Extreme Private Eros 1974 Love Song (極私的エロス・恋歌1974, 1974 Hara Kazuo)

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The Cherry Tree with Gray Blossoms (薄墨の桜, 1977 Haneda Sumiko)

Memories_Agano1
Memories of Agano (阿賀の記憶, 2004 Satō Makoto)

Tsuchimoto Noriaki, Minamata: The Victims And Their World (1971) a milestone in Japanese documentary

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Disclaimer: as I wrote few days back on twitter, I’ll kick off 2015 with a little experiment. I’ve translated (and partly rewritten) in English my post on Minamata: The Victims and their World. As English is my second language, inevitably some subtleties and nuances of the original Italian piece are probably lost. Feedback and/or suggestions are welcome.

Minamata: The Victims and Their World (水俣 患者さんとその世界, 1971)

Director: Tsuchimoto Noriaki
Production: Higashi Productions
Producer: Takagi Ryutarō
Camera: Ōtsu Kōshirō
Editor: Tsuchimoto Noriaki, Sekizawa Takako
Year: 1971
Links: review by Cathy Munroe Hotes, DVD by Zakka Films

Tsuchimoto Noriaki is one of the major figures in Japanese documentary history, and although he also made works about Afghanistan, road construction and other diverse topics, he is best known for the series made in more than 30 years about the victims of Minamata disease. Tsuchimoto first came into contact with the reality of Minamata, a city located in Kumamoto prefecture, in 1965 when he was commissioned to make a short documentary for television, Minamata no kodomo wa ikiteiru. After this experience, when approaching the victims was not as easy as one might expect, he went back to Minamata in 1970 and started to film the lives of the residents in a different manner and to uncover a Pandora’s box of horrors. Minamata had been the scene of one of the largest poisonings perpetrated by man to himself and to the environment, and the city’s name will remain forever linked to the chemical company Chisso, which from 1932 to 1968 polluted the Shiranui Sea and the Minamata Bay with huge quantities of mercury. The metal entered the food chain and caused what is now called Minamata disease (Minamata-byō), a neurological syndrome that was first discovered in 1956. Over the years, the disease has affected more than ten thousand people and killed more than two thousand, but these are just the officially recognized, numbers; the damages and effects of this crime sadly are not always quantifiable or legally provable, and there have been accusations of collusion between the Japanese government and the Chisso corporation to cover up the disaster.
Structurally Minamata: The Victims and Their World consists of a series of interviews, conducted by Tsuchimoto himself, with the victims and relatives of those who had been affected by the disease. These interviews reveal the daily lives of the inhabitants damaged by the poisoning: their relationship with the sea, the sickness and the painful memory of the deceased. The interview scenes are interspersed with moments in the lives of fishermen, their habits and traditions, and meetings and rallies in the streets to protest Chisso and the government. It is worth pointing out that the crime perpetrated by Chisso is something inherent in the capitalist system, a tragic result of the dynamics of exploitation of poor and marginal areas and not merely an incident in the course of normal industrial activities.
As a documentary director, Tsuchimoto had to face two big problems, (re)gaining the trust of the people whose lives and tragedies were often spectacularized and exploited by the media, as he experienced firsthand when making the aforementioned TV documentary, and secondly deconstructing the contrasting feelings of hate and gratitude towards Chisso that were present in many residents, even unconsciously. Tsuchimoto was well aware of all these contradictions, and one of his major achievements was his ability to achieve a balance between the anger with which he was unmasking the dark side of modernization in Minamata, and the human touch with which he always managed to present the victims and give them dignity.
We are introduced to the world of Minamata by a series of information about the poisoning and the Chisso corporation, displayed at the beginning of the documentary. These words substitute for the initial narration, the voice-of-god so often used in mainstream documentaries, and are soon followed by the first images of the area, the lapping of the water and a fishing boat in the sea. This is a highly symbolic start, as the water that dispenses life to the fishing community and upon which the community’s life is based, is the same water that, polluted by mercury, destroys their lives. The lack of sync between the image and the sound, due to the lack of the right technology, was very common in Japanese independent documentary of the time; most of Ogawa Pro’s works of the Sanrizuka period, for instance, were affected by the same “problem”. This technical limitation forced directors, including Tsuchimoto, to combine images and sound in highly creative ways. The words and cries of the victims and of their families are often overlapped with images showing the tragic effects of mercury poisoning upon the residents of Minamata, in the fishing scenes that often punctuate the documentary, a beautiful and almost ancient music contributes to creating an epic atmosphere that envelops the lives of these fishing communities, the most impressive and famous of these shots depict an elderly man, who has lost his wife because of the disease, fishing for octopi.

As a viewer watching the movie at the beginning of the 21st century, it is also worth noting that the images in black and white and the aforementioned lack of sync, pose as a further filter for the viewer, allowing Tsuchimoto to successfully avoid spectacularization of grief and the subsequent exploitation of the lives of the victims. We still see sick people and children whose lives were completely ruined, particularly touching is when in a series of harrowing scenes we are introduced to a young boy, who is drooling, staggering, and unable to move and speak freely. But the way the camera follows him and presents his and his family’s grief, is a form of respect that reveals his dignity as a human being. This attention towards the weak and the other is one of the highest achievements of Tsuchimoto’s body of work, it is a cinematic touch that serves also as a very powerful ethical statement on the meaning of being human, an approach that will reach a new level and culmination in The Shiranui Sea (1975), another documentary dedicated to the victims of Minamata.
In the second part of the documentary, we follow the journey of the victims and their families to Osaka, where the Chisso biannual shareholders meeting took place in 1970. This trip to the second largest city in Japan is also important because Osaka is the place that in the same year (1970) housed the International Exposition. Together with the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, this international event helped to reposition Japan in the international political map and in doing so marked the complete admission of Japan to modernity and the Western world. Exposing the dark side of modernization, Tsuchimoto is thus making a very powerful political statement about the development of Japanese society and modern societies in general, revealing the unavoidable part maudite.
The meeting between the leaders of Chisso corporation and the Minamata representatives almost resulted in a riot, with a sort of guerilla filmmaking reminiscent of the cacophony of Sanrizuka and the student protests, Tsuchimoto and director of photography Ōtsu Kōshirō show us the people of Minamata invading the stage and surrounding the CEO and his staff as if symbolically destroying the verticality between the zaibatsu and the people. Again here, as in the Sanrizuka documentaries of Ogawa Pro of the same time, the soul of the protest was feminine, and the ones who verbally confronted the Chisso CEO more than anyone else were in fact women and mothers driven by rage and grief.

Minamata_Victims_DVD

The opportunities to see Japanese documentaries outside of the archipelago are really few, and usually restricted to film festivals, especially when these works were shot in 16mm or 35mm. It is thus noteworthy that Minamata: The Victims and Their World, together with The Shiranui Sea and other Tsuchimoto’s works, is available on DVD with English subtitles through the dedicated work of independent label Zakka Films.
(Special thanks to Ono Seiko and Tsuchimoto Motoko)

Tsuchimoto Noriaki, Minamata: The Victims and Their World (1971) una pietra miliare del cinema documentario giapponese

Minamata_Victims

Here the English version

Regia: Tsuchimoto Noriaki. Fotografia: Otsu Koshiro. Produzione: Higashi Production. Produttore: Takagi Ryutaro.
Durata: 120’. Anno: 1971.
Reperibilità: DVD Zakka Films

Tsuchimoto Noriaki entra in contatto per la prima volta con la realtà di Minamata nel 1965 quando realizza un documentario per la televisione, Minamata no kodomo wa ikiteiru, ed inizia a calarsi in quella che nel corso degli anni sarebbe diventata l’avventura della sua vita, non solo artisticamente parlando. Tsuchimoto nato nella prefettura montuosa di Gifu, nel 1970 ritorna nell’isola meridionale di Kyushu per scoperchiare quella scatola degli orrori, ed è l’orrore del sistema non quello dell’incidente di percorso, che è stata e continua ad essere, per quanto gli stessi abitanti del luogo vogliano dimenticare, la città di Minamata. Luogo e teatro di uno dei più grandi avvelenamenti perpetrati dall’uomo verso sé stesso e l’ambiente, il nome della città rimarrà per sempre legato all’industria chimica di Chisso che dal 1932 al 1968 riversa nel mare, come materiale di scarto, quantità enormi di mercurio. Il metallo entra nella catena alimentare e finisce per causare la cosiddetta malattia di Minamata (Minamata-byō) che nel corso degli anni colpisce più di diecimila persone uccidendone quasi duemila, ma questi sono solo numeri di superficie, i danni e gli effetti di questa tragedia non sono sempre quantificabili e legalmente dimostrabili ed è questa un’ulteriore tragedia che lascia coloro che ne sono colpiti ancora più umiliati.
Fin dapprincipio però Tsuchimoto si accorge come molte delle famiglie rifiutano di lasciarsi filmare dopo che i media, già all’epoca, avevano sfruttato la tragedia ed il dolore delle persone per creare spettacolo. In più, in molti abitanti dell’area colpita era presente un contrastante sentimento di odio e gratitudine verso la Chisso che grazie al complesso industriale costruito nelle zone aveva sollevato, almeno secondo alcuni, dalla povertà la popolazione locale. Conscio di tutte queste condraddizioni Tsuchimoto riesce a realizzare un vero e proprio capolavoro di equilibri, da una parte la rabbia con cui smaschera i processi con cui la modernità si evolve nell’arcipelago giapponese e nel particolare nella zona di Minamata schiacciando i ceti inferiori, dall’altra l’umanesimo con cui riesce sempre a presentare le vittime e a dare loro dignità.
Il film inizia con lo sciabordio dell’acqua e una barca di pescatori da sola in mezzo al mare, l’acqua che dà la vita alla comunità dei pescatori ma che allo stesso tempo, inquinata dal mercurio, le vite le distrugge. Il bianco e nero nelle scene, liriche, tramuta il blu del mare nell’argento del mercurio portatore di morte. Il fuori sincrono delle interviste (dovuto probabilmente alle limitazioni tecniche) costringe Tsuchimoto ad inventarsi un montaggio di immagini che scorrano sulle parole, pianti e grida delle vittime e dei loro familiari. La bellissima musica poi in alcune scene contribuisce a creare quell’epopea della vita dei pescatori e della loro comunità, per esempio nelle scene di pesca del polpo da parte di un anziano pescatore che ha perso la moglie a causa della malattia.

Le foto dei deceduti, bambini di meno di cinque anni e di una ragazza nel fiore dei suoi anni scorrono con il sonoro delle parole delle loro famiglie, sono immagini che muovono lo spettatore, molto forti ma allo stesso tempo molto empatiche, la bravura di Tsuchimoto e del direttore della fotografia Otsu Koshiro sta proprio nel rispetto verso il soggetto filmato, le immagini in bianco e nero pongono poi un certo filtro verso lo spettatore e non si soffermano mai con morbosa volontà su coloro che parlano, evitano di usare il dolore cioè come eccitante per coloro che guardano. Si vedono comunque dei bambini e un giovane ragazzo malati e sono scene strazianti, la bava, i movimenti spastici, l’autosufficienza negata e la difficoltà di comunicare, ma la mdp li segue con leggerezza e rivelando sì il loro dolore e quello dei familiari, ma rispettandoli e rivelando la loro dignità di esseri umani. Sono proprio questo equilibrio e questa cura ed attenzione verso il debole ed il diverso alcuni dei più alti conseguimenti del cinema di Tsuchimoto e che raggiungeranno forse il loro coronamento in The Shiranui Sea (1975), sempre dedicato alle vittime di Minamata.
Strutturalmente il lavoro è composto da interviste alle vittime, ai genitori ed ai parenti di coloro che sono stati colpiti dalla malattia che raccontano la loro vita di ogni giorno, una quotidianità che gira attorno al mare ed il doloroso ricordo dello scomparso. A queste scene sono intervallate altre di vita nel mare dei pescatori, le loro abitudini e tradizioni, e scene di riunioni e comizi in piazza per protestare contro la Chisso e lo stato che ha aiutato a coprire il crimine perpetrato. Nella seconda parte del documentario vediamo il viaggio delle vittime e dei loro familiari verso Osaka ed è importante perchè la processione per le strade della città è diretta verso l’ufficio centrale della Chisso ma anche perchè Osaka è la città che ospita nello stesso anno, il 1970, l’Expo, evento che assieme alle Olimpiadi di Tokyo del 1964 sancirà la definitiva apertura del Giappone al mondo dopo la sconfitta bellica e l’accettazione del paese asiatico nella modernità occidentale. L’incontro fra i vertici della Chisso e la rappresentanza di Minamata sfocia in cacofonia e quasi in una rivolta, persone invadono il palco accerchiando il presidente ed il suo staff quasi a voler distruggere quella verticalità fra saibatsu e popolo sfruttato che ha contraddistinto la tragedia. Ancora una volta qui, come nei documentari coevi di Sanrizuka della Ogawa Pro, l’anima della protesta è femminile con le donne e le madri che nel dolore immenso per una vita distrutta aggrediscono verbalmente il presidente della Chisso. Il film si conclude con le immagini di pesca e col sottofondo musicale dei canti tradizionali di Minamata cantati dalle vittime e da tutte le persone del villaggio. Inizia con questo film come si diceva più sopra una vera e propria missione per Tsuchimoto che nell’arco di tutta una vita fino alla morte avvenuta nel 2008 dedicherà alle vittime di Minamata ben 14 documentari.

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In un panorama internazionale in cui i documentari provenienti dall’arcipelago giapponese reperibili sono davvero pochissimi, è un fatto non secondario che il film, assieme anche al già citato The Shiranui Sea, sia disponibile in DVD con sottotitoli in inglese presso Zakka Films.
(Un grazie di cuore a\Special thanks to Ono Seiko and Tsuchimoto Motoko)

Sight & Sound best documentaries – una prospettiva giapponese

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Lo scorso settembre la rivista britannica Sight and Sound ha pubblicato il risultato di una votazione, anzi due, una fra critici e studiosi di cinema e l’altra fra registi, per determinare i migliori documentari di ogni tempo. Al di là di tutte le critiche che possono essere rivolte ad iniziative di questo genere, la votazione dei critici è stata interessante perchè ha dato un certo risalto (non molto in realtà) alla produzione documentaristica/non fiction estremo orientale con il primo lavoro, West of the Tracks (2002) del cinese Wang Bing, al 17simo posto e The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987) del giapponese Hara Kazuo al 23esimo.

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Sfogliando la bella rivista però è possibile imbattersi in molte opere provenienti dall’arcipelago nipponico, citate nelle loro 10 best list da molti studiosi e critici e la qual cosa non può che far bene. Al di là del valore e della riuscita di un film come The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, personalmente di Hara preferisco Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974, va notato però che si tratta di uno dei documentari giapponesi più visti e proiettati all’estero (anche grazie alle parole sul film espresse da Michael Moore) e che di quasi tutte le opere del regista nipponico esistono anche i DVD con sottotitoli in inglese. Questo non vuole sminuire un’opera così importante e riuscita certo, ma va gettato uno sguardo un po’ più ampio su questi risultati.
Per esempio, dei film di Ogawa Shinsuke, meglio chiamarli della Ogawa Pro, non esistono DVD per il mercato internazionale ed in giapponese c’è solo Summer in Narita (1968) e questo perchè Ogawa ed il suo collettivo hanno lasciato un buco di milioni e milioni di yen che preclude per ora operazioni di restauro e transfer in DVD. Anche di uno dei padri fondatori del documentario giapponese come Kamei Fumio, attivo sia prima che dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale, non esistono DVD per il mercato internazionale mentre va detto che i suoi film sono stati proiettati in alcune manifestazioni. Il collettivo NDU e Nunokawa Tetsurō poi sono un oggetto oscuro anche in patria, ma la loro produzione e traiettoria artistica e tanto importante quanto gli altri nomi citati prima più sopra. Insomma la disponibilità e l’esposizione di documentari giapponesi degli anni passati rimane davvero minima se confrontata con la cinematografia “classica” dell’arcipelago (Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, Ōshima, Yoshida, Kitano, ecc.).
Detto questo, fa indubbiamente piacere vedere citati tanti di questi autori (Ogawa, Tsuchimoto, Hara, Kamei) in alcune liste individuali stilate dagli studiosi e dai critici, che sia un buon auspicio per un futuro in cui il documentario giapponese e quello estremo orientale in generale, possano essere studiati ma soprattutto conosciuti e visti in maniera più estesa di quanto non succeda oggi.