Kazuo Hara

Kazuo Hara – Minamata Mandala (2020)

“Minamata disease” is a neurological disease caused by methylmercury poisoning named for its identification in Kumamoto Prefecture, where industrial wastewater from a Chisso Corporation chemical plant contaminated fish and shellfish consumed by communities around Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea. Filmed over 15 years, this sprawling documentary lays out this history of pollution dating back to the 1930s and decades long legal battles against the government for diagnosis certification and reparations. However the film gives itself over to the network of survivors, care providers, and supporters keeping the fight alive, following unexpected chutes and ladders from gregarious researchers’ theories pushing back against an intransigent medical establishment, to the passionate song lyrics of a woman suffering since childhood. Here Hara and Kobayashi return to core commitments of disability rights and individuals’ demands of the state, extending Noriaki Tsuchimoto’s landmark series on the Minamata struggle, and issuing a cry against political apathy. Read More »

Kazuo Hara – Mata no hi no chika AKA The Many Faces of Chika (2005)

Director Kazuo Hara tells the tale of the eponymous Chika and four different relationships she has during the turbulent political climate of the 1970s. Four different actresses play the role of Chika in order to emphasise the different ways she is perceived by her husband, a teacher, a student and an aging gangster. Read More »

Kazuo Hara – Yuki Yukite shingun AKA The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987)

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On is a brilliant exploration of memory and war guilt, a subject often ignored in modern Japan. In this controversial documentary, Kazuo Hara follows Kenzo Okuzaki in his real-life struggle against Emperor Hirohito. He proudly declares that he shot BBs at the Royal Palace, distributed pornographic images of the Emperor, and once killed a man for the sake of his strange crusade. As the film progresses, Okuzaki reveals a gruesome mystery: why were some Japanese officers killing their own soldiers during WWII? What happened to their bodies? Okuzaki begs, cajoles, and occasionally beats the story out of elderly veterans. Read More »

Kazuo Hara – Zenshin shosetsuka aka A Dedicated Life (1994)

An interesting documentary about an interesting man, to say the least. Kazuo Hara follows up his controversial work “The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On” with a bio-documentary about Mitsuharu Inoue, a famous and popular (especially among women) post-war Japanese writer. The film follows the last few years of the life of Inoue before he dies of cancer in 1992. The film starts out as a usual bio-documentary like many others, but the second half of the film digs into the writer’s past and comes up with some unexpected discoveries. Read More »

Kazuo Hara – Nippon Asbest Village AKA Sennan Asbestos Disaster (2016)

Ten years in the making, Kazuo Hara’s three-and-a-half-hour-long epic is a longitudinal study of asbestos victims demanding reparations from a heartless state. Hara records the eight-year struggle of the plaintiffs and their lawyers. A dogged and dramatic depiction of their intense battle. Read More »

Kazuo Hara – Gokushiteki erosu: Renka 1974 aka Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974)

In 1972, Miyuki tells her ex-lover Kazuo that she’s going to Okinawa with their son. Kazuo decides to film her. He narrates his visits to her there: first while her flatmate is Sugako, a woman Miyuki is attracted to; then, while she works at a bar and is with Paul, an African-American soldier. Once, Kazuo brings his girlfriend, Sachiko. We see Miyuki with her son, with other bar girls, and with Sachiko. Miyuki, pregnant, returns to Tokyo and delivers a mixed-race child on her own with Kazuo and Sachiko filming. She joins a women’s commune, talks about possibilities, enjoys motherhood, and is uninterested in a traditional family. Does the filmmaker have a point of view? Read More »