segunda-feira, 13 de abril de 2009

In Protest Against the Massacre of Night and Fog in Japan

(Nihon no yoru to Kiri, 1960)
By Nagisa Oshima

With unrelenting anger, I write to protest against the massacre of Night and Fog in Japan.
On behalf of all of us -myself, Ishido Toshiro(1), Kawamata Ko(2) - and the entire crew, who unraveled a difficult subject and treated the project as if it were their own work; all of the actors, starting with Watanabe Fumio, who called himself a nonacting participant; and everyone on the outside who made endless efforts to improve it as if it were their own work, begrudging neither criticism nor counsel throughout the production process -representing all of them, all of their sadness and anger, I write in protest of the massacre of Night and Fog in Japan.
This massacre is clearly political oppression. This is demonstrated by the film's having been withdrawn in spite of the fact that its box-office figures were only slightly lower than usual, and by the sudden way it was withdrawn.
If this isn't political oppression, let even one theater, one independent screening group, give it one opportunity to be shown! Lend it out!
I understand that all such requests are being refused. If this isn't political oppression, what is it?
I direct my protest to Shochiku's executives offices.
You have succumbed to political oppression, massacring Night and Fog in Japan using excuses like "No one comes to see it. No one understands it."
You must have known from the beginning that this film wasn't going to be a big hit and would big difficult for the audiences of The Manager and the Apprentice(3) to understand.
This work was an appeal to the audience that usually turns its back on movie theaters, the audience that takes life seriously. You are forgetting to appeal to them and using the low box-office figures as an excuse for massacring Night and Fog in Japan.
With unrelenting anger, I write in protest.
It's not too late. Even one theater would be enough. Even one independent showing would be enough. Give it the opportunity to be shown! Lend it out!
I also direct my protest to one segment of art journalists.
You didn't seek the true meaning of the facts. You didn't use your pens to explore the question of political oppression.
You took Shochiku's announcement at face value, making an issue of the low box-office figures and a fuss about the collapse of the "New Wave". What do you mean, "New Wave"? (4) Have you ever used the term "New Wave" as anything other than a synonym for sex and violence? Where is the sex and violence in Night and Fog in Japan? What relationship does that film have to your so-called New Wave? By taking a concept that has already been smeared with your dirty hands and forcing it on Night and Fog in Japan, by sweeping the revolutionary aspects of that work into the realm of public morals, you are giving support to the political and artistic reactionaries.
With unrelenting anger, I protest.
Stop using the term "New Wave" once and for all! Evaluate each film on its own merits!
And put your energy into getting Night and Fog in Japan shown again! That is journalistic work in its true sense.
I really think that what killed Night and Fog in Japan is the same thing that killed Kamba Michiko(5) and Asanuma Inejiro(6), and I protest with unrelenting anger.
What is it? It is everyone and everything that displeased when the people try to re effect reform from their side, to carve out new conditions to themselves. The enormous strenght shown by the people in the fight against the security treaties terrifies and intimidates them, ultimately sending them into a frenzy.
I swear before the three skeletons of those who where massacred by the power of that frenzy that my film is the weapon of the people's struggle(7).
I don't have high hopes for that struggle.
I know that in any case Night and Fog in Japan was unable to mobilize the majority of its audience and cannot gain the acceptance of the audience that enjoys The Manager and the Apprentice.
But I am not giving up.
I believe in the potential of the audience -that is to say, of the people. I believe they can change.
The audience has been given too many foolish films for too long. Night and Fog in Japan is the first memorable Japanese film to reach those in the audience who take life seriously. And as Cinema Report's Minami Hiroshi and Weekly Opinion's Mr. T. have noted, the future of japanese film depends on whether works like this continue to be made.
I will continue to make work like this.
Voices protesting the massacre of Night and Fog in Japan will continue to spread quietly.
Give the film another opportunity to be shown! Lend it out!
That is the voice of the people demanding that the future of the Japanese film be directly tied to their own future.
Along with my colleagues in production and criticism, I will continue to respond to these voices. The future of the Japanese film depends on us.

(Film Criticism, December 1960)

(1) Ishido Toshiro joined the Shochiku Ofuna Studio in 1955 as an assistant director and colaborated with Oshima during the first ten years of Oshima's directional career. He coscriptedSuns Burial (Taiyo no Hakaba, 1960), Night and Fog in Japan (Nihon no yoru to kiri, 1960), The Catch (Shiiku, 1961), and Amakusa Shiro Tokisada (The Rebel, 1962). Ishido quit Shochiku with Oshima in 1961 and joined Oshima's independent production company, Sozosha, which he left in the early 1970's to work as a freelancer and eventually as a novelist.
(2) Kawamata Ko entered the Shochiku Ofuna Studio in 1945 as an assistant cameraman and became a director of cinematography with Let's Go (Donto Ikooze, dir. Yoshitaro Nomura, 1959). His second job as a cameraman for Oshima's Sun's Burial (Taiyo no Hakaba, 1960) launched his career in the Shochiku Studio as a director of cinematography much in demand, for his striking photography was immediately noticed. His collaborations with Oshima lasted until Oshima left Shochiku on the other twoo films, Cruel Story of Youth (Seishun Zankoku Monogatari, 1960) and Night and Fog in Japan (Nihon no yoru to kiri, 1960).
(3) This film, a program picture, replaced Oshima's Night and Fog in Japan, which was withdrawn from circulation on its fourth day of public distribution. Oshima's fury at this treatment of his work by the Shochiku management is evident.
(4) The name "Shochiku New Wave", modeled on the "French New Wave" was proposed by an editor of the Weekly Yomiuri, which published feauture articles on Cruel Story of Youth(1960). In an effort to counter a series of box-offices failures, Kido Shiro, director of Shochiku's production department, promoted some young assistant directors and enabled them to make their first films from their original scripts. They are Town of Love and Hope (Ai to kibo no machi, dir. Oshima Nagisa, 1959), Only She Knows (Kanojo dakega Shiiteru, dir. Takahashi Osamu, 1960), Cruel Story of Youth (Seishun Zankoku Monogatari, dir. Oshima Nagisa, 1960), One-Way Ticket of Love (Koi no Katamichi Kippu, dir. Shinoda Masahiro, 1960), Sun's Burial (Taiyo no Hakaba, dir. Oshima Nagisa, 1960), Volunteering for the Villain (Akunin Shigan, dir. Tamura Takeshi, 1960), Good-for-nothing (Rokudenashi, dir. Yoshida Yoshishige, 1960) and Blood is Dry (Chi wa kawaite Iru, dir. Yoshishige Yoshida, 1960). This policy lasted only one year. The majority of these filmmakers were more radical politically than their French conterparts.
(5) A student in Chinese history at Tokyo University who was killed in a clash between student demonstrators and the police in front of the parliament building. Her death produced an emotional ripple among the participants that developed, on the following morning, into uproar among the wider public.
(6) Asanuma Inejiro, the chairman of the Japan Socialist Party was assassinated by youth of the extreme right when about to deliver a speech at the party congress.
(7) There were, in fact, four skeletons in 1960. One is that of Kamba Michiko; another is that of Asanuma. The third would be that of the wife of the president of the publishing house Chuo Kuron Sha. The fourth would be that of a coalminer murdered by a right wing thug in a clash between strikers and nonstrikers, assisted by gangs of strikebreakers, which took place in front of the hopper of the Mitsui Miike coal mine. The site was to become a symbol of defeat of the postwar labor movements in their struggle against a change of state energy policy that had been shifting from coal to petroleum.

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