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Bunka Eiga Kenkyu, Prewar Japanese Documentary, and Film Theory

Bunka eiga kenkyu, the third in my series of reprints of prewar film studies/film theory journals at Yumani Shobo, has been published. This follows the reprints of Eiga kagaku kenkyu (see my introduction here) and Eiga geijutsu kenkyu (see my introduction here).


Bunka eiga kenkyu is a bit closer to Eiga kagaku kenkyu than to Eiga geijutsu kenkyu in that it is less a film theory journal, like the latter, than a periodical by filmmakers attempting to understand their art and practice. It was actually not my first choice to do for the third reprint. The plan was to do Eiga zuihitsu, the legendary coterie magazine published in Kyoto in the late 1920s that was core to what Makino Mamoru later called the Kyoto Eiga Gakuha. But that journal is so rare, Yumani could not gather enough original issues to serve as the basis for the reprint. So I was asked to identify a substitute and had to do it quickly. I picked Bunka eiga kenkyu because, of the prewar journals that had not been reprinted and that could be reprinted without too much difficulty, it was probably the most consequential, especially in the field of documentary and debates about film realism. Yumani insisted we had to keep to the same timeline, so that did not leave much time for me to prepare materials and write a commentary. We also found out that Makino had been in discussions with another publisher about reprinting Bunka eiga kenkyu, although that publisher had done little to bring the plan to fruition. We got the okay to reprint the journal, and I asked two of the young scholars who were helping Makino’s project, Sato Yo and Morita Noriko, to collaborate by writing commentaries. So unlike the first two reprints, which just included my commentary, this one sports three. In the end, we dedicated the reprint to Makino Mamoru. 

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