USA, JAPAN / 2000 / Japanese, English / Color, B&W / Video / 82 min
Director, Photography, Editing, Producer: Barbara Hammer
Assistant Director: Shimada Yoshiko
Sound: Barbara Hammer, Tanaka Junko
Music: Seki Ichiro, Jomon Daiko, Kimura Sato
Associate Producers: Nakano Rie, Ono Seiko
Production Company, Source:
Barbara Hammer Productions
55 Bethune Street # 523H, New York, New York 10014 USA
Phone & Fax: 1-212-645-9077
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.barbarahammerfilms.com
Ogawa Shinsuke and Ogawa Productions invented a way of making documentaries unlike any other. In the 1970s, they based themselves in Sanrizuka in Chiba Prefecture, where all the members took turns farming the land and cranking the camera to create masterpieces such as Narita: Heta Village and Narita: The Building of the Iwayama Tower. The unit eventually moved its base to Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture, and went through many personnel changes. Through interviews with current and former members of Ogawa Productions, directors such as Tsuchimoto Noriaki, Kuroki Kazuo and Oshima Nagisa who were active through the same era and others, American director Barbara Hammer goes in search of Ogawa Productions and Ogawa Shinsuke.
[Directors Statement] Devotion is the most difficult film or video I have ever undertaken. From inception to completion it was two years of investigation of a distinguished and important film collective whose members were dispersed since the death of their leader, Ogawa Shinsuke, nine years ago. Not only did I have to find the members whose numbers measured in the hundreds, but also, to negotiate preliminary meetings before I could videotape an interview. Some members refused to speak to me altogether, some would only give me personal interviews but would not be taped, and, thank god, some were very honest, personal and helpful.
That was just the beginning. Then I had to edit over 70 hours of material in Japanese, a language I do not understand. Why, you might ask, would any foreigner undertake such a project? Sure, I was naive and did not expect the difficulties I would encounter. However, the deep research that led to these surprising stories, the wonderful films made by Ogawa Productions, and the desire to make sure history was not written by a single point of view propelled me through the two intense years of work.
I believe that history affords multiple telling; that each person will tell a different story of the same experience, that we filmmakers and audience viewers must also hold all the varied meanings simultaneously. It isn’t difficult once you begin this practice. I appreciate the film/video that uncovers, reveals, makes the invisible, visible.
I made Devotion as a contribution to Japanese and global film history.
Born in 1939 in Hollywood. Started making 8mm films in the late 1960s. Discovered lesbian feminism, and has made over 80 experimental films and other works which convey her strong comments on social issues. Recipient of many awards from film festivals around the world, and considered a leading figure in independent filmmaking and video activism in the US. Her works are classics of lesbian cinema. In 1992, released her first film feature documentary, Nitrate Kisses, a stylish filmic meditation on the social/cultural history of homosexuality in the US. Head of the jury for the International Competition at YIDFF ’95. Tender Fictions (1995) was screened in the International Competition at YIDFF ’97. Other recent films include History Lessons (2000).