Perspectives Japan

October 6–10   [Venue] F5 Forum 5

This program introduces films that capture Japan from a unique perspective. Men with Movie Cameras—Shooting the Great Kanto Earthquake reexamines the ethics of documenting disasters and the power of images. What Should We Have Done?, an incisive record of a family’s struggles over 20 years, asks through the camera lens what responsibility should be, and what their relationships are. Nihonbara Diary tells the story of a family that has appealed for peace for half a century and lives a dream of herding cows at a Self-Defense Force training ground, with a mixture of surprise and humor. With Each Passing Breath celebrates the traditions and inheritances of people living in the art of rokyoku, where the performers express their emotions of joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure with surging voices and the accompaniment of the shamisen. Oasis is an attempt to capture the culture and physical sensibilities that quietly exist in the midst of the metropolis as nimbly as a sketch, but at the same time as carefully as possible. These five films pose the question, in an actual and sincere manner, of what it is to live/be compelled to live in a certain place within a particular period of time, without being bound by convention.

- Men with Movie Cameras—Shooting the Great Kanto Earthquake
JAPAN / 2022 / 81 min
Director: Inoue Minoru

It has been one hundred years since the Great Kanto Earthquake killed more than 100,000 people. Three men turned on their cameras of their own volition, in a mortally dangerous determination to capture the ensuing conflagrations. This work asks us to consider the meaning of recorded images that convey the thoughts and feelings of the filmmakers across generations.

Oct. 6

- What Should We Have Done?
JAPAN / 2023 / 102 min
Director: Fujino Tomoaki

In 1983, the director’s 24-year-old sister developed symptoms of schizophrenia. Her parents couldn’t accept it—refusing to seek treatment for their sick child, they confined her to their house, to the point of even fixing a padlock on the front door to lock her in. Her younger brother, suspicious of his parents’ actions, began filming the family in an effort to openly question them. A family conflict that lasted over twenty years.

Oct. 8

- Nihonbara Diary
JAPAN / 2022 / 110 min
Director: Kurobe Shunsuke

Nagi, Okayama Prefecture, home to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Nihonbara Training Area. The film tells the story of Naito Hideyuki and his family, who have raised cattle and cultivated fields in Nagi for fifty years, all the while advocating against war and for peace in a town that extols coexistence and co-prosperity with the Self-Defense Forces. Why did Naito, who was a medical student at the end of the 1960s, become a cowherd?

Oct. 9

- With Each Passing Breath
JAPAN / 2023 / 111 min
Director: Kawakami Atiqa

Asakusa’s Mokubatei is the only theater in the Kanto region that regularly bills rokyoku—a form of narrative singing accompanied by shamisen. Backstage, a variety of lives intersect, and the art is passed down from practiced singers to the younger generation. The film’s main character is Minatoya Kosome. It follows Kosome from her growing enraptured by rokyoku singer Minatoya Koryu, then becoming the legend’s apprentice—until to the day she is formally announced as Koryu’s successor and namesake.

Oct. 10

- Oasis
JAPAN / 2022 / 56 min
Director: Okawa Keiko

Mai, an artist, and Rintaro, a bicycle builder. The two weave through their city on bicycles. A river under an overpass, the ivy in a ditch, the demolition of state housing . . . . The film follows the couple as they move about, taking pictures of whatever catches their eye. Mai believes that even these small stories from everyday encounters constitute the culture of a city and the film documents Mai’s process of incorporating these stories into her work. The film was produced as part of the “Cultural Narrative of a City” project, which strives to present the city Minato in all its delicate yet vibrant cultural diversity.

Oct. 7