festival dates

Courtisane festival, notes on cinema, 23nd edition, 27 - 31 March 2024

Paruchizan zenshi (Prehistory of the Partisans)

Tsuchimoto Noriaki

In 1969, Tsuchimoto, together with members of Ogawa Productions, gained privileged access to a group of students who barricaded themselves inside the Kyodai University in Kyoto. Tsuchimoto was both critical of the sectarian conflict that threatened to divide the various leftist student groups, and at the same time fascinated by their ability to organise and willingness to act autonomously. He was interested in analysing the use of counter­violence and its legitimacy as a form of self­-defense. The film documents at length the discussions between the members of the group as they define their tactics, prepare their fight, build barricades, and seek to broaden their struggle to overthrow not only academic authority, but society as a whole. The film is an invaluable document of its time and one of the most complex reflections on political violence ever committed to film.

This film is perhaps the best documentary made, anywhere, about the student protests of the 1960s. Tsuchimoto was the only filmmaker or journalist allowed to witness the secret workings of an ultra-radical splinter group at the prestigious Kyoto University (alma mater of Oshima Nagisa). As Ogawa has done in Forest of Pressure, Tsuchimoto virtually lived with his subjects during the course of the shoot. Tsuchimoto, however, emerges as more even-handed than Ogawa toward his subjects, more dispassionate as a filmmaker. This is probably a function of the Partisan group’s overt desire for direct, violent confrontation with the authorities. While Tsuchimoto himself does not necessarily share his subjects’ views on the efficacy of violence, he does convey the honesty and intensity of the group members themselves.” — David Desser


Japanese spoken with English subtitles