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An Old and New Interview with Hara Kazuo


Sorry for the paucity of posts. After a year in Japan, I have returned to Yale and been bombarded with work. One of my last gigs in Japan, however, was a conversation on 18 August 2018 with the documentarist Hara Kazuo after a screening of his A Dedicated Life (Zenshin shōsetsuka, 1994), which was shown as part of a retrospective of his work at Uplink in Shibuya (an image of the flyer is on the right). It was the first time I had done an event with Hara-san since the Berkeley conference in May 2009 dedicated to him. The theater was basically full and we had a great conversation.

The talk centered on a number of interesting connections. On a personal side, A Dedicated Life recalled my first interview with Hara-san back in 1993 for Documentary Box, the journal of the Yamagata Film Festival that I later edited for a couple of years. In it, he talked about the difficulty of filming a subject who was gradually fading away in front of his eyes. In this case, it was the novelist Inoue Mitsuharu, whom Hara started filming only to find out he had cancer. Inoue was one of those nonconformist characters Hara likes to focus on like Okuzaki Kenzo of Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987) fame, one who stand out in society. Inoue was not only a forceful presence, who performs his idiosyncrasy, but also a womanizer. Yet his body slowly wears away on screen. Hara-san talked about the difficulty of filming such a disappearing subject.

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