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Umitori—Robbing the Sea at Shimokita Peninsula 海盗り – 下北半島・浜関根

Tsuchimoto Noriaki | 1984 | Japan | 103’ | 16mm | Japanese spoken, English subtitles

Umitori takes place in Shimokita Peninsula on the northern edge of the mainland, which was becoming a “nuclear energy peninsula” undergoing tremendous development and serving as the home port for Mutsu, a nuclear-powered ship. Focusing on the fishermen and their stories, Tsuchimoto and his crew made their subject matter the “theft of the sea” perpetrated by giant business conglomerates. While the fishermen of Minamata were obvious victims of the mercury poisoning tragedy, the fishermen in Shimokita were inadvertently becoming the permanent victims of another announced tragedy. Tsuchimoto interviews the fishermen, especially focusing on a stage play actor and his boat­-owner family, establishing (as became his practice) a complex reflection about the threat brought to small communities by the forces of “progress”.