Open City Documentary Festival

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Tsuchimoto Noriaki: Study-Day

A study-day dedicated to the work of TSUCHIMOTO Noriaki will take place in collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image. Tsuchimoto developed a unique practice of working with people and the environment, honed over time and with a strong ethical positioning that has implications to the way we think about the social responsibility and commitment of the filmmaker. We will discuss different aspects of Tsuchimoto’s work, highlighting lesser-known aspects of his work such as the films he made for television, or the emergence of an eco-critical thinking and practice in his films that he developed in different and creative ways in his long career. The objective is to place Tsuchimoto’s work at the crux of current concerns by inviting scholars in Japan and abroad to respond to his films and their wider implications.

The day will begin with an illustrated presentation by Ricardo Matos Cabo about Tsuchimoto’s cinema which will reflect on the work done for the retrospective. This will be followed by a talk by Marcos Pablo Centeno (Universitat de València, Birkbeck – University of London) focusing on the early years of the filmmaker’s work, including the films he made for Iwanami Productions. The conversation with the audience will be moderated by Julian Ross (Leiden University).

Aaron Gerow (Yale University) will elaborate on the meaning of Tsuchimoto’s idea that guided his practice: “Film is a work of living beings”. Christine Marran (University of Minnesota) will explain the significance of Tsuchimoto’s Minamata films from an eco-political perspective. She will discuss how Tsuchimoto filmed the effects of methylmercury on the body, particularly through an “optics of walking”. The conversation will be moderated by Jelena Stojković (Oxford Brookes University).

Finally, Ishizaka Kenji (Japan Institute for the Moving Image), author of the book Amidst the Sea of Documentary: Dialogues with Tsuchimoto Noriaki (2008), published by Gendai Shokan, will talk about his friendship with the director, the last years of his work and Tsuchimoto’s influence on the work of other documentary filmmakers.

The day will also include a screening of the slide show Hiroshima-Testimony Through Paintings, a work Tsuchimoto made for the Maruki Gallery in 1985 about the Hiroshima panels and other works by Akamatsu Toshiko and Maruki Iri. Filmmaker and academic John Gianvito (Emerson College), whose work was directly influenced by Tsuchimoto’s practice, will present the film Another Afghanistan-Kabul Diary 1985. The film is one of the documentaries Tsuchimoto shot in Afghanistan, which was still occupied by the Soviet Union.


Schedule (10h-17h30):

10h Arrivals
10h15 Welcome – Irene González-López (Birkbeck – University of London)
10h30 Ricardo Matos Cabo (retrospective programmer)
11h30 Marcos Pablo Centeno (Universitat de Valencia, Birkbeck – University of London) – followed by conversation with Julian Ross (Leiden University).
12h15 Hiroshima—Testimony Through Paintings, 1985, slides projection, 32 min

13h-14h Lunch break

14h Another Afghanistan—Kabul Diary 1985 (“Mohitotsuno Afuganisutan”) 2003, 16mm in video, 42min – with an introduction by John Gianvito [on zoom].
15h Aaron Gerow (Yale University) [on zoom], Christine Marran (University of Minnesota) [on zoom]. Conversation moderated by Jelena Stojković (Oxford Brookes University)
16h15 Keynote lecture by Ishizaka Kenji (Japan Institute for the Moving Image), followed by conversation.

Associated event: From Hiroshima and Minamata to Today. Socially Engaged practices in post-war Japan, webinar hosted by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation with Justin Jesty and Namiko Kunimoto on Wednesday, 14 September 2022, 1pm.

The Daiwa Anglo-Japonese Foundation is organising a webinar in relation to the exhibition Hiroshima by Maruki Iri and Akamatsu Toshiko. This talk will focus on the work of these artists, but also on their collaboration with Tsuchimoto Noriaki, and their practice of socially engaged art and filmmaking. The film The Minamata Mural (1981), which shows the Maruki working process is screening at the ICA on 18th September, 4pm, and the slideshow about the work of the Maruki, Hiroshima—Testimony Through Paintings (1985), will be included in the study-day.