Oct. 7 (Mon.) & 13 (Mon.) Kato Tai's Hidden Documentary Publications / index / Japanese Documentary

The Ondekoza


Production Companies: Den Office, Asahi Broadcasting Co., Ltd.,
Shochiku Co., Ltd
Executive Producer: Den Tagayasu Producer: Tanaka Yasuyoshi

Director: Kato Tai
Scriptwriter, Assistant Director: Nakakura Shigeo

Photography: Maruyama Keiji
Art Director: Umeda Chiyoo
Design: Yokoo Tadanori
Lighting: Noda Masahiro
Sound: Nishizaki Hideo

Editing: Fuke Riichi
Casts: Kawauchi Toshio, Hayashi Eitetsu, Oi
Yoshiaki, Fujimoto Yoshikazu, Takano Takumi, Mori Mitsuru
1981 / Color / 35mm / 107 min / Magnetic 4 channel Stereo /
English and French subtitles

This is the first documentary produced in many years by Kato Tai. Kato began participating in the making of documentary films in the pre-war era. He developed a substantial body of work collaborating on high-level "program pictures" from the 1950s to the 1970s. Ondekoza is a troupe of young people based on the island of Sado, off the coast of Niigata, whose music consists of playing and performing on Japanese traditional instruments, with focus on taiko (Japanese drums). The film traces the lives of Ondekoza members from their physical training and rehearsals on the island, to the various places in which they perform. Attempting to express their "sound" through the properties of filmic images, Kato gives a warm portrayal of the young troupe members. The film includes performances from Ondekoza's repertoire, including Devil Sword Dance ("Oni kenbai"), O'Shichi of the Tower ("Yagura no O-Shichi"), Changing Cherry Blossom Song ("Sakura Hensokyoku"), The Big Taiko ("Odaiko"), Monochrome II ("Monokuromu II"), Float Orchestra ("Yatai bayashi") and Tsugaru Shamisen ("Tsugarujamisen"). With the idea of blowing up the print to 70mm for future screenings, the film was made using the top technology of the time--Panavision and quadraphonic sound. Kato's special brand of filmmaking uses shot techniques typical of seen in dramatic films to show, for instance, the sweat beading like jewels off the characters' faces. Techniques such as low angle shots and changing lens size combine with the power of a narrative structured in episodes, like a dramatic film, to realize a filmic work of art. Since the film's completion, it has only been shown at special screenings in Tokyo and Kyoto, and during limited runs at film festivals and at Eurospace in Tokyo. This year marks the 13th anniversary of Kato Tai's death, and so we bring you the first ever stereo screening of his masterpiece.


Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee