Films about Yamagata
  • The Man Who Shot Godzilla: Honda Ishiro Centennial
  • Arise, Japan: Escape from Occupation
  • Iwanami Productions, An Overview of Social-Studies Films, and More
  • Seasons of Magic Lantern
  • Yamagata Household Cinema
  • Legendary Filmmakers of Yamagata: the Actress Yokoyama Rie
  • The Future of Yamagata and Film
  • Special Screening
  • The Man Who Shot Godzilla: Honda Ishiro Centennial

    Carrying on from YIDFF 2009, we will screen films by Honda Ishiro, the Tsuruoka City native who continually appealed to the world for peace and against nuclear folly through his special-effects films. This year we will feature the first monster film made in color, as well as Honda’s second theatrical release, The Skin of the South—one of three early films that reflect the director’s strong documentary spirit. The films come from two different genres, but both exhibit Honda’s consistent stance that people need to feel awe in the face of nature. In addition, we’ll screen an invaluable interview with the director, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan.


    (Sora no daikaiju Radon)

    1956 / Japanese / Color / 35mm / 82 min

    Director: Honda Ishiro
    Script: Kimura Takeshi, Murata Takeo
    Special Effects Director: Tsuburaya Eiji
    Music: Ifukube Akira
    Cast: Sahara Kenji, Shirakawa Yumi, Hirata Akihiko
    Production Company, Source: Toho

    Honda created three famous monsters: Godzilla, Mothra, and this one, Rodan. This was the first of Toho’s special-effects monster films to be released in color, and the fine detail in the miniatures that the special-effects team created is astonishing. Global warming leads to the reawakening of Rodan, an ancient creature, who then attacks humans. The suit actor who played Rodan was Nakajima Haruo, a native of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, who also played Godzilla. The heroine, Shirakawa Yumi, is a relative of the late writer Inoue Hisashi, who was born in Higashiokitama-gun, Yamagata Prefecture.

    The Skin of the South

    (Nangoku no hada)

    1952 / Japanese / B&W / 35mm / 95 min

    Director, Script: Honda Ishiro
    Original Story: Fukuda Kiyoto
    Photography: Kawamura Kiyoe
    Prodction Design: Nishikawa Yoshio
    Music: Akutagawa Yasushi
    Cast: Izu Hajime, Fujita Yasuko, Shimura Takashi
    Production Company, Source: Toho

    The focus is on natural wonders, as the film extols human coexistence with nature. This is the second of Honda’s three early works that exhibit a strong documentary spirit. As the director stressed in interviews, he was strongly influenced by Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran (1934). The scene in which the Shirasu Plateau collapses could almost be from one of his later special-effects films.

    - My Life in Cinema: Honda Ishiro

    (Waga eiga jinsei Honda Ishiro kantoku)

    1990 / Japanese / Color / Video / 58 min

    Interviewer: Banno Yoshimitsu
    Production Company, Source: The Directors Guild of Japan

    In the 1990s, the Directors Guild of Japan produced a series of interviews with film directors to commemorate the guild’s 60th anniversary. Director Banno Yoshimitsu conducted this interview with Honda on January 23, 1990. The director discusses in detail his entry into the film world and his early films. It is interesting to note that he identifies The Skin of the South as his most memorable film from that time.