ReFocus: The Films of Kazuo Hara and Sachiko Kobayashi: a documentary cinema of dissent
Editor: Dr. Rowena Santos Aquino
Since their debut documentary film Sayonara CP in 1972, director Kazuo Hara and producer Sachiko Kobayashi have marked the documentary film landscape in Japan while also gaining critical attention around the world. Such attention became intensified and coupled with international notoriety with their third documentary The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987). Despite what could be considered a minimal filmography of seven documentaries and one fictional feature, through to their latest work Minamata Mandala (2020), Hara and Kobayashi have produced a staggering body of work whose authorial perspective coupled with that of their social actors have contributed to the force and interrogation of documentary film representation and practices. However, apart from the English translation of Hara’s writings with the 2009 publication of Camera Obtrusa: The Action Documentaries of Hara Kazuo (KAYA Press), there has yet to be published a sustained critical engagement of Hara and Kobayashi’s documentary filmmaking in the English language.
A sustained critical engagement of Hara and Kobayashi’s body of work would contend with not only postwar Japanese history and (documentary) filmmaking but also the manner in which they are tightly interwoven. This edited collection will explore and demonstrate how Hara and Kobayashi's documentary cinema serves as a dynamic critical and interdisciplinary lens through which to closely examine ways of addressing, remembering, and even contesting histories and perspectives (and their narrativisation) that are part of the legacy of the social, political, and economic developments of postwar Japan, developments that continue to resonate in the present day and inform their filmmaking. Just as importantly, this edited collection seeks to situate Hara and Kobayashi’s works within the evolution of documentary film practices within Japan and in dialogue with international developments.
Abstracts for chapters on Hara and Kobayashi are currently being accepted to be considered for an edited collection as part of the University of Edinburgh Press’ ReFocus: The International Directors Series. This collection aims to contribute to scholarship on Hara and Kobayashi’s heretofore still under-examined works and to include more documentary directors as part of international cinemas. Chapters may focus on, amongst other things:
- (Postwar Japanese) documentary theories, aesthetics, and approaches and Hara and Kobayashi
- Representations of the body and materiality in Hara and Kobayashi
- Presentness and temporalities in Hara and Kobayashi
- Spaces and communities in Hara and Kobayashi
- (Japanese) historiography and Hara and Kobayashi
- Hara and Kobayashi and the (Japanese postwar) political landscape and social movements
- Hara and Kobayashi and the abject
- Memory and modes of remembering in Hara and Kobayashi
- Media, performance, and Hara and Kobayashi’s films
- Trauma and Hara and Kobayashi’s films
- Authorship and narrative structure in Hara and Kobayashi’s films
- Kobayashi’s role in productions, Hara and Kobayashi’s partnership, and Shisso Productions
- Hara and Kobayashi and international documentary practices/theories
- Comparative study of Hara and Kobayashi and other documentary auteurs
- Your suggested topic(s)
Interviews and English-language translations of literature on Hara and Kobayashi will also be considered. Preference will be given to abstracts that operate within a more interdisciplinary framework in which to analyze a single film or read themes across several films.
Abstracts must be 200-250 words in length and include a 100-word author bio and contact information. Please send your abstracts to Rowena Santos Aquino (RefocusHaraKobayashi@gmail.com) by November 19, 2021. Final essays will be 6000-8000 words in length, using Chicago style citation.