Sunday, 20 September 2009

The all too human world of Kazuo Hara

Only about two years ago I've read for the first time about Hara Kazuo, one of the most important Japanese New Wave directors, together with the likes of Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura. His films include the most extraordinary documentaries you would ever see, like The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On(1987) about the atrocities of the IIWW in Japan and the most outstanding rendering of cinema-verite docu-autobiography, and somewhat the strangest travelogue there is, Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974), centering on his ex-girlfriend Miyuki Takeda, not long after their breakup.

She leaves him and goes to Okinawa island with their child. He follows her as a somewhat the strangest and humiliating way to preserve their relationship. Miyuki is a militant feminist, a pioneer of women's liberation in patriarchal Japan: she lives exactly as she wants and nothing will stop her before realizing her decisions. the sado-masochistic drive is obvious; but behind that stands a non-deniable, authentic love, as he documents her relationships with other women, black American GI's and her work as a go-go dancer. not only his voyeristic masochism is totally moving; his extreme naturalism as well. we observe two births in nearly real time.

I couldn't find any fragment of his proper work as a video on the net, but here's a fragment of Barbara Hammer's documentary on artistic-productive collective of directors, called Ogawa

Devotion, A Film about Ogawa Productions by from barbara hammer on Vimeo.

here some biographical stuff:

Kazuo Hara born in 1945, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Studied photography at the Tokyo Academy of Photography. Together with Kobayashi Sachiko, Hara founded Shisso Productions in 1972 for making documentaries. After debuting with Good-bye CP, Hara made Extremely Private Eros, Love Song 1974, a film featureing Takeda Miyuki. Takeda who had a child with Hara, took the baby and left him to live with a black American soldier in Okinawa. Later in Okinawa she gave birth to a racially mixed child. Hara and Kobayashi Sachiko ( Hara's present wife) documented this very private episode in a 110 minute, 16mm independently produced film. Besides receiving tremendous audience response, the film won an award at the International Independent Film Festival in Thonon les Bains, France. In 1975, hara directed a teledoc on women's liberation: Women Now…History Begins Here. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches on (1986) is hara's most sensational work till now. The film is about a Japanese Imperial Army soldier Okuzaki Kenzo, who appeased the death of his fellow soldiers at the end of the Pacific War. Inspite of the recognition the film received in Japan and abroad, major film distributors in Japan refused to show it because of its inherent criticism of the Japanese imperial system and cannibalism among Japanese troops.

and some useful links:

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