Globus Film Series
Visions of Okinawa: Cinematic Reflections
May 13—June 3
Marking 50 years since Okinawa’s reversion from American sovereignty back to Japan, Visions of Okinawa documents the dynamic historical, political and cultural spaces of Okinawa around this pivotal point in history through in-person screenings and streamed films exploring the legacies of the Occupation, WWII and imperialism. Primarily focusing on films made around the time of or dealing with the 1972 reversion, Visions of Okinawa addresses issues of identity, race and borders by presenting diverse and complicated reflections on the prefecture from mainland filmmakers, native Okinawans and documentarians.
| IN-PERSON SCREENINGS:
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Virtual 3-Film Pass: $24 for all online films
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“Is Okinawa Japan?” I once said that Okinawa would be Japan if it lost its characteristic languor, or chirudai.
I would venture to say that what all of the films in this series have in common is that they present the confusion, verification, conflict, and struggle surrounding Okinawa being declared part of Japan as of May 15, 1972. They take a very cautious and careful approach to the question of whether or not Okinawa is Japan, a question that belongs to the realm of the “negative memory” of the reversion.
In my case, what I wanted to capture in my films is the repose of spirits, or mabui, of the deceased, who are perhaps still drifting through the daily landscape of Okinawa, the only part of Japan to experience ground warfare. However, it is the living who have “memory gaps,” and since the living are unreliable, those gaps cannot be completely reconciled. These memory gaps are endless. And so too are the “record gaps.” “Recording the air,” whether that is a documentary or narrative work, is a particularly important element in identifying a place. I think that is one of the most exciting aspects of cinema.
I would like to extend my gratitude to Japan Society, for planning and programming this series, as well as to all of the audience members.
All in-person screenings will take place in Japan Society’s auditorium, located at 333 E. 47th Street in New York, NY. Please note: Visitor safety is our top priority. All attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear a proper mask at all times while inside our building. Please be sure to review the Japan Society safety and health policies here.
1985. 117 min. Directed by Go Takamine.
N.A. Premiere of New 2021 Edit. Okinawan director Go Takamine’s pioneering debut takes place shortly before the reversion, tacitly addressing the islands’ history of occupation through the story of a wedding between a local girl and a Japanese teacher.
Screening followed by reception.
Friday, May 13 at 7 pm
Dear Summer Sister
1972. 95 min. Directed by Nagisa Oshima.
Archival 35mm Presentation. Teenage Sunaoko travels to Okinawa in the hope of visiting her stepbrother, setting the stage for Oshima’s disruptive politics to reveal the entanglements and contradictions of the island’s history with Japan.
Saturday, May 14 at 7 pm
Terror of Yakuza
1976. 96 min. Directed by Sadao Nakajima.
A ripped-from-the-headlines Toei production, shot and filmed in Okinawa, Terror of Yakuza took inspiration from the then ongoing yakuza conflicts in Okinawa and was banned from screening in the prefecture.
Friday, May 20 at 7 pm
Films listed below stream online May 14-June 3 at film.japansociety.org.
1985. 117 min. Directed by Go Takamine.
New 2021 Edit. Okinawan director Go Takamine’s pioneering debut takes place shortly before the reversion, tacitly addressing the islands’ history of occupation through the story of a wedding between a local girl and a Japanese teacher.
Streaming in North America.
Focus on the Nihon Documentarist Union (NDU)
Formed in 1968 at Waseda University, the Nihon Documentarist Union (NDU) was once one of the most influential collectives of Japanese nonfiction filmmaking. Emerging from the student movements of the late 1960s, the politically active NDU produced guerilla-style 16mm documentaries shot with asynchronous sound, and wrote extensively in leftist film journals, magazines and other publications. The group posited an activist cinema of anonymity—rejecting auteurism and opting to exclude individual names from their credits. But while contemporaries like Ogawa Productions have since gone on to international recognition, the groundbreaking work of the NDU has remained in relative obscurity both in Japan and abroad.
In 1969, with negotiations for Okinawa’s return to Japan reaching their final stages, the NDU took to Okinawa, illegally entering the prefecture to document the lives of those marginalized by the region’s history of occupation, exposing the contradictions and systematic issues present within Okinawa’s relationship with Japan and America. Japan Society is proud to present two essential NDU productions shot during their time in Okinawa: Motoshinkakarannu and Asia is One, screening for the first time outside of Japan with new English subtitles.
Streaming Worldwide except Japan & Taiwan.
1971. 87 min. Directed by the NDU.
Shot over a period of 15 months from April 1969 to July 1970, Motoshinkakarannu captures a tumultuous time in Okinawa’s occupation, offering an unflinching snapshot of Okinawan society that captures the daily lives of sex workers, yakuza, tourists and G.I.s in Koza City.
Visions of Okinawa: Cinematic Reflections is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a generous gift from The Globus Family.
Special Thanks to Alex Zahlten; Bob Hunter (Icarus Films); Go Takamine; Mark Johnson (Harvard Film Archive); Mayumi Miyoshi (Oshima Productions); Tomoko Takedani Sater; Sachiko Sone (Parco); Shiori Takata (Toei); Yoshio Yasui (Kobe Planet Film Archive).
Japan Society Film programs are generously supported by ORIX Corporation USA, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and endowment support from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund. Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, Akiko Koide and Shohei Koide, David Toberisky, Geoff and Fumi Matters, Laurel Gonsalves, and David S. Howe. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the exclusive Japanese airline sponsor of Japan Society Film.