News and Opinion

Of Sea and Soil: The Cinema of Tsuchimoto Noriaki and Ogawa Shinsuke

スクリーンショット 2019-04-22 午後8.02.06

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Ghent in Belgium at the beginning of April to participate in the Courtisane Festival 2019. The Festival was holding a mini-retrospective of the documentaries of Tsuchimoto Noriaki and I was invited to give a talk, entitled “Tsuchimoto Noriaki, Minamata, and Japanese Documentary," and introduce a couple of his films. It was a wonderful festival—small but focused—and I was thrilled to see that most of the Tsuchimoto films were practically sold out. It was also a pleasure to see Paolo Rocha’s A Ilha de Moraes (1984), an intriguing documentary by the Portuguese director about the Portuguese writer and diplomat Wenceslau de Moraes, who ended up living the last portion of his life in Japan. 

Courtisane also produced a catalog of the Tsuchimoto retrospective, in collaboration with Cinematek in Brussels, which did an Ogawa Shinsuke retro. I contributed an essay to Of Sea and Soil: The Cinema of Tsuchimoto Noriaki and Ogawa Shinsuke entitled “Tsuchimoto Noriaki and Environment in Documentary Film,” which attempts to consider how Tsuchimoto’s environmentalism is based not simply in his film content but also his film form. 

Tsuchimoto Noriaki at Courtisane


Just a quick note, but I will be traveling to Ghent in Belgium this week to participate in Courtisane Festival 2019. This year’s film festival will feature the sidebar “Artist in Focus: Tsuchimoto Noriaki” and I have been invited to give a talk on Tsuchimoto and the background to his films. The Festival will show seven of Tsuchimoto’s works:

  • An Engineer’s Assistant
  • On the Road
  • Exchange Student Chua Swee-Lin
  • Prehistory of the Partisans
  • Minamata: The Victims and Their World
  • The Shiranui Sea
  • Umitori—The Stolen Sea at the Shimokita Peninsula 

My talk will be on Saturday, April 6, at 15:00 in the Paddenhoek. The page on the retrospective is here

In addition to talking about Tsuchimoto, Minamata, Iwanami, and his approach to documentary, using several clips from his films, I will introduce the Tsuchimoto Collection, his personal papers that have been donated to Yale. Not just their contents, but the Collection itself I think speaks to important aspects of his character and approach to cinema. 

If you are in Belgium, come and say hello. If not, stay tuned for future announcements about Tsuchimoto related events and developments.

UPDATE: I posted about the catalog for the Tsuchimoto and Ogawa Shinsuke retros being made available on line. Check it out here.

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