New Docs Japan
New Docs Japan is bigger this year with nine new films including those featured at international film festivals overseas and those that contemplate ‘Japan today.’ From films actively participating in contemporary Japanese society and changing/unchanging locations, to journalistic documentaries, personal documentaries, and those that pursue lush visuals and realism, this program features a vast array of unique characters and places, themes and styles.
• October 8 (Sat) 22:00 Venue: Muse 1
- Japan’s Peace Constitution
(“Eiga Nihonkoku Kenpo”)
- 2005 / Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, Arabic / Color / Video / 78 min
Director: John Junkerman
Prompted by the dispatch of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to Iraq, the debate surrounding the constitution heated up in 2005. The movement in Japan towards a hasty revision is reconsidered from a broader global perspective. Who does a constitution belong to? In this collection of interviews, intellectuals from around the world talk about the significance of the peace constitution and the story behind its enactment..
• October 9 (Sun) 19:00 Venue: Yamagata Central Public Hall 4F
- GENKI Love
(“Mokkosu genki na ai”)
- 2005 / Japanese / Color / Video / 85 min
Director: Terada Yasunori
Severely physically-handicapped Kurata Tetsuya living in Kumamoto is unable to get married because his girlfriend’s mother strongly opposes the union. After much effort he obtains his driver’s license, and is determined to make the same effort to get permission to marry. The camera also exposes the characters of other unique residents such as a depressed pachinko addict who lives with Kurata..
• October 9 (Sun) 21:00 Venue: Muse 1
- Into the Picture Scroll—The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa
(“Yamanaka Tokiwa: Ushiwakamaru to Tokiwagozen haha to ko no monogatari”)
- 2004 / Japanese / Color / 35mm (1:1.37) / 100 min
Director: Haneda Sumiko
The film revolves around the picture scroll “Yamanaka Tokiwa,” which is said to be the work of the painter Iwasa Matabei, who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries. The theme of the picture scroll is the tale of Ushiwaka-maru and his mother, Lady Tokiwa, which was a popular joruri puppet theater drama in early modern times. By introducing Matabei’s background, light is shed on his state of mind as he painted the picture scroll. The rhythm of the joruri musical accompaniment and the editing is exquisite.
• October 10 (Mon) 18:30 Venue: Muse 2
- Marines Go Home!—Henoko, Maehyang-ri, Yausubetsu
- 2005 / Japanese, Korean / Color / Video / 135 min
Director: Fujimoto Yukihisa
Both Japan and Korea have U.S. military bases on their soil. Henoko, Okinawa continues a desperate campaign to block the construction of a U.S. Marine Corps heliport. A bombing practice site for the U.S. Air Force exists in Maehyang-ri, Korea. Yausubetsu, Hokkaido has the largest Self-Defense Forces maneuvers training ground in Japan. The film shows us a facet of Japan's militarization as it follows people in each region engaging in lifelong anti-military protests activity.
• October 10 (Mon) 21:00 Venue: Muse 1
- And Life Goes On
(“Watashi no kisetsu”)
- 2004 / Japanese / Color / 16mm / 107 min
Director: Kobayashi Shigeru
The film is set in the Second Biwako Gakuen, a historical institution for the permanently disabled. It sincerely portrays the life of people who have been living there for forty years, children who are incapable of spontaneous respiration and their families looking after them. Eye to eye with the camera, the appeal of each of them is amply brought out.
• October 11 (Tue) 20:00 Venue: Muse 1
- Little Birds
(“Little Birds—Iraku senka no kazoku tachi”)
- 2005 / Arabic, English, Japanese / Color / 35mm (1:1.37) / 102 min
Director: Watai Takeharu
The director was already in Baghdad to cover the U.S. air raids when they began in March 2003. Shouting in front of a U.S. Army tank, he portrays the real situation that befell the Iraqi civilians—a woman. As the director shows how different families fall victim to heavy air raids and the horrors of war, he questions the “meaning” of war.
• October 12 (Wed) 16:30 Venue: Muse 1
- HOME TOWN—me & the Kobe Earthquake
(“Boku wa Kobe umarede shinsai o shiranai”)
- 2005 / Japanese / Color / Video / 89 min
Director: Motoki Takashi
The Kobe-born director was living in Osaka when the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake struck in 1995 devastating his hometown. in 2003, he returns after receiving a call from a high school friend, and comes face to face with the earthquake’s legacy by filming present day Kobe. A frank depiction of the director’s struggle with his inner self as he carries his camera through the city.
• October 12 (Wed) 19:00 Venue: Muse 1
- Ride Forward on Your Bicycle
(“Jitenshya de iko”)
- 2003 / Japanese / Color / Video (Original: 35mm) / 115 min
Director: Sugimoto Nobuaki
Pumyong is the salesman of a workshop for the handicapped. He pedals his bicycle around supposedly to advertise and sell merchandise made there, but . . . Along the way he drops by several places where he knows people: a takoyaki (grilled octopus dumplings) stand, a coffee shop, a workplace with fork lifts. He twists the staff members of the day care center House for Potatoes and Kids and the film crew around his little finger, and rides around Ikuno in Osaka indifferent to those around him.
• October 12 (Wed) 18:30 Venue: Yamagata Central Public Hall 4F
- Letter from Rokkasho Village no. 1–no. 3
(“Rokkasho mura tsushin”)
- Japanese / Color / Video
no. 1: 2004 / 51 min no. 2: 2005 / 58 min no. 3: 2005 / 57 min
Director: Kamanaka Hitomi
In Rokkasho Village there is a reprocessing plant for nuclear fuel. Villagers and supporters engaging in a grassroots campaign around the nuclear facilities, people associated with the atomic industry—each face reveals facts about Japan’s nuclear power plants and the Japanese people. The camera is in intimate contact with voices that go unheard in mainstream media.
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