In Memory of Takagi Ryutaro

YIDFF 2017 Closing Film
The Power of Expression: The Minamata Producer Speaks

(Hyogen ni chikara ariya Minamata producer, kataru)

JAPAN / 2016 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 100 min

Directors: Inoue Minoru, Kataoka Nozomi
Photography: Nakai Masayoshi, Katsura Shuntaro
Editing: Ishii Kanae
Narration: Inoue Minoru
Producers: Murayama Hideyo, Katsura Shuntaro
Production Company, World Sales: Documentary Film Preserve Center

Takagi Ryutaro, producer of director Tsuchimoto Noriaki’s series of films introducing the Minamata disease to the world, speaks about his life and career. He not only took an active producer’s role at Iwanami Productions in the era of Tsuchimoto, Ogawa Shinsuke, and Higashi Yoichi, but his desire for more creative freedom led him to become instrumental in the founding of Higashi Productions. He developed his own style of film production through his work on the Minamata films—a story that unfolded in his home prefecture of Kumamoto. His indomitable spirit, as he takes on huge loans to sustain the production, radiates alongside clips from the series and interviews with Higashi Yoichi, Ishimure Michiko and others. We feel both discord and longing for the Shiranui Sea, leaving us simultaneously radiant and slighyly bitter.

[Director’s Statement]

Dear Takagi Ryutaro,

Some time has passed since I visited you at the end of last year when you were ill. Do you like your new surroundings, and have you yet encountered Katsura Shuntaro? In fact I had imagined this film’s production culminating in you coming to Yamagata, engaging with the Power of Expression and all the other films here. When we interviewed you, almost thirty years had passed since you left Seirinsha. You had once crossed horns with Tsuchimoto and Higashi and produced the Minamata series, which still rocks society today—I had envisioned this wild ending in order to bring you up to date.

But as I interviewed you, I found you were in no need of any such fantasy. You shared unknown behind-the-scenes episodes, and expressed your thinking and principles regarding work. You showed respect toward your colleagues, feigning ignorance and acting self-effacing about personal matters, and you swiftly countered clumsy questions with keen, stern replies.

Equally captivating were those providing testimony. Along with their words, I sensed reality and human warmth through the power of their gaze, their breath and the deep feeling conveyed in their statements—all a palpable reminder of the passion of those connected to the Minamata disaster.

My fantasy will come true if you would leave your new celestial home in order to come to the screening. Please invite Katsura too. I look forward to seeing you there.

Inoue Minoru, Summer 2017

- Takagi Ryutaro

Born 1932, Kumamoto. Joined Iwanami Productions in 1960. Won the Japan Industrial Film Competition for Speed Trial (1966), his second film as producer. Left Iwanami to produce Okinawa Islands (1969) with Higashi Yoichi. His motto then was “going into debt through filmmaking, and repaying the debt with the film.” Produced the narrative films The Gentle Japanese (1970) and A Japanese Demon (1973), and completed Minamata—The Victims and Their World (1971), an indictment of the Minamata disease, holding independent screenings across Japan. Subsequently produced eleven documentary films on the same theme, bringing the malady to light nationwide through the power of investigative filmmaking.

- Inoue Minoru

Born in 1965, he became involved in the documentary independent screening movement as a teenager. Worked for a time at Gentosha before becoming freelance. Then worked on the staff of films by Inudo Isshin and Matsukawa Yasuo, while also learning the craft of production for a wide variety of fields including theatrical commercials, and documentary film. Made his directing debut with NON Taro’s Garden (1992), and then continued making short films in areas such as corporate PR, social education, and culture. Recent works include Saga-nishiki: Weaving the Art of Koga Fumi (2016).

- Kataoka Nozomi

Born in 1977. Graduated from Waseda University’s Global Information and Telecommunication Institute. Studied film directing as an international student at the Beijing Film Academy. Co-produced the documentary film Yokohama Mary (2005) directed by Nakamura Takayuki. Major directorial work includes Children of Chinese School (2008) and Kiraigo (2014).