Sanrizuka – Heta Village

31 March, 2017 - 16:00

The program Of Time and Struggle highlights four crucial documentaries made by Ogawa Productions between 1971 and 1986. This collective of filmmakers founded in the late 1960s, under the direction of Ogawa Shinsuke, chronicled with remarkable dedication some of the major political and social upheavals in Japan’s ‘season of politics’ from the 1960s through the 1970s, including the struggles of the student movement and long-term resistance by farmers in Sanrizuka. Ogawa Productions’ work aspired to collective decision-making, achieving an unusual level of engagement with the people they filmed. They aimed to make independent and partisan films, while at the same time developing alternative ways for distributing, screening and discussing their work.

Sanrizuka – Heta Village (Sanrizuka – Heta Buraku)

Ogawa Productions

The aftermath of the violent confrontations in the fields resulted in deaths, injuries, and ultimately in the suicide of a young activist, leaving a profound mark and grief among those still living in the fields. Young farmers were continuously arrested and prevented from working during the harvest season, leaving their families and friends behind. This strengthened the ties within the village community, which gathered to mourn, discuss their grief and the best means to help those in prison. This is the situation that is portrayed with so much care and empathy in Sanrizuka – Heta Village. Seeking to find the roots of this sustained resistance in the history, customs and ever-renewed traditions of the village, as well as those of the attachment of the people to the land, the filmmakers step back to film village life. The storytelling and long communal discussions set the slow pace of the film, with its immersive long takes. Heta Village is one of the most moving films ever made by this group of filmmakers, a respectful, mournful film, a work of patience, paced by silence, with a structure that responds as much to village time as to the general tone of people’s feelings. Ultimately, this film about time and place is the result of the deeply felt empathy and solidarity that the filmmakers felt towards those with whom they lived and struggled.