Open City Documentary Festival

across London
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The World of the Siberians シベリヤ人の世界

Tsuchimoto Noriaki | 1968 | Japan | 99’ | 35mm | Japanese spoken, English subtitles

Tsuchimoto made this travelogue film in 1967, documenting a five-month journey from the port city of Nakhodka on the coast of the Sea of Japan, to Moscow on the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Beautifully shot in colour, Tsuchimoto moves the camera from the celebrations and official parades to the expressions of ordinary daily life, focusing on the experiences of young people, local politics and the manifestations of traditional culture. The commissioned film was broadcast on television, but this theatrical version was never released and it has been rarely shown.

“There was no shortage of subjects I wanted to film abroad. Beginning with the construction of the new China, the Cuban Revolution, and the war for the liberation of Vietnam, my heart resonated with the waves of national movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. With the death of Stalin and Khrushchev’s proclamation of the “thaw,” international cultural exchange came to life and Japan-Soviet relations were not an exception. What was planned in the wake of this was the documentary film, Shiberiajin no sekai [The World of Siberians], about traversing Siberia in Japanese-made vehicles. It was a part of a cooperative venture by Dentsu (Toyota), Asahi Newspapers, and Nihon Film Company, to create a new campaign introducing Siberia by simultaneously using the media of newspapers, film and television. The Soviet government allowed us to report on its virgin territory on the condition that the project was done in cooperation with the Novosti news service. This was the first time anyone from the Western media had entered this area in the postwar era.

Not only for me, but for everyone else, the world on the other side of the Cold War “Iron Curtain” was a “mass of alien culture” we wanted to know more about both politically and culturally. Especially Siberia, which was Eurasian – that is, Asian. I became interested due to the foreign reports on the skirmishes over the Soviet-Chinese border.” (Tsuchimoto Noriaki)

“Can I Eat, Die, and Love There?” My Private and Cinematic Experiences in a Different Culture, 1992
Published in Japanese Documentaries of the 1960s [Catalogue] (Yamagata: Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, 1993)


UK premiere.