Shinsuke Ogawa & Ogawa Pro
This program highlights the exceptional work of Ogawa Productions, a collective that from the late 1960s, under the impulse of documentary maker Ogawa Shinsuke (1935-1992), recorded some of the most important political and social upheavals in post-war Japan. Already since their first achievements, in which they focused on the protest movement of Japanese students, the members of the collective became noticed because of their radical engagement. The dedication of their work was made clear from the outset: (a) reality cannot be documented without actually immersing yourself in it. This attitude was applied even more radically during their stay in the Sanrizuka region, where from 1968 they were part of the resistance movement that developed against the expropriation of agricultural land for the construction of a new international airport. The filmmakers settled in the village of Heta where they lived for five years and worked as members of the rural community, whose experiences and trials they recorded with enormous dedication and sensitivity.
As the conflict withered, they moved their cameras more and more from the noise of the battlefield to the slow rhythm of village life. In 1974 Ogawa Productions moved to the village of Magino, in the Yamagata prefecture, where they pursued perfect harmony between cultivating their film practice and cultivating rice crops for a decade. Meticulously, they realized two extraordinary films in which historical and mythological time coincide with the rhythms of seasonal cycles and daily life, resulting in an unprecedented symbiosis of scientific research, documentary approaches and fictional re-enactments.
This program includes the main films Ogawa Productions realized between 1968 and 1986, as well as a series of films that shed light on this unique practice, which raises current questions about the relationship between cinema and engagement, representation and participation, and also about the complex nature of collective filmmaking.
This selection of films is an extension of the program that was compiled in collaboration with Ricardo Matos Cabo for the Courtisane Festival 2017 and forms a diptych with the program that will be dedicated during the Courtisane Festival 2019 (3-7 April) to a filmmaker who, together with Ogawa, forms a shining example of Japanese engaged cinema: Noriaki Tsuchimoto.
Initiated by Cinematek and Courtisane, in collaboration with the Japan Foundation, Athenée Français Cultural Center Tokyo, and Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.