Pamplona (Spain), 22-27 February 


Japanese Documentary 


When North American occupation came to an end in 1952, Japanese documentary film began to turn out a regular production of great variety and wealth, forming something akin to a new memory, a new awareness. When the war finished on the 14th of August 1945, Japan was a country in ruins, faced with the dual challenge of understanding what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of confronting an irreversible break in its thousand years of history.

On the morning of the 15th, Emperor Hiroito announced Japan’s surrender to the nation. Never before had the country been occupied by foreign troops. Nor had the Japanese ever heard the emperor’s voice until that day. The first time they heard it was when it spoke to announce the end. The second, on the 1st of January of the next year, was when Hiroito renounced the divine nature of his title.


The documentary camera bore witness to this great rupture with a thousand years of tradition and history, and went on to record the dizzy changes which, from the point of view of morale, intimacy, social life, emotional expression and identity, were to take place over the next sixty years. The documentary films directed by Toshio Matsumoto, Shohei Imamura, Susumu Hani, Shinsuke Ogawa, Kazuo Hara or Naomi Kawase make the season The Cinema of a Thousand Years.

Without any kind of pretension of totality, deliberately elliptical and suggestive, The Cinema of a Thousand Years intends to provide a first glance at this fascinating territory, pointing towards a few doorways, a few essential names, a few unforgettable images, a few sounds which, like the voice of the emperor, reach our ears for the very first time.