Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 181: Sat Nov 13

Annyong Kimmchi (Matsue, 1999): Close-Up Cinema, 4pm

A weekend of films at Close-Up Cinema on November 13th and 14th (full details here) places its focus on one of the most disarming strands of Japan’s non-fiction cinema. Variously termed self-documentary, personal documentary or “I-film” (a cousin to the I-novel in Japanese literature), this form of auto-documentary-making began when Japanese filmmakers in the early 70s began to make films that pointed the camera either at themselves, or those closest to them. Distributing and exhibiting the results outside of commercial circuits, the films could take the form of home videos, diaries, portraits, confessions, or a combination thereof. Raw, naked and intimate, both in form and content, self-documentary has often been the province of fledgling filmmakers willing to take on the challenge to put something on the line, to present their lives with an honesty as unvarnished as possible. So, while beauty, humour, lightness of the everyday are present, above all, it’s the private moments that give these films their power to surprise and move. Curated by Sunil Chauhan, this programme brings together some of the best of the sub-genre to come from Japan in the last 25 years.

Introduction to
Annyong Kimmchi: Where do younger Korean-Japanese (referred to as “zainichi”) born and raised in Japan stand on issues of ethnicity and nationality? In this charming documentary shot on 16mm, Tetsuaki Matsue, a third-generation zainichi embarks on a journey of self-discovery (the title translates as Hello Kimchi, a taste for which Tetsuaki has yet to acquire). As he confesses his Korean ancestry to classmates, quizzes his aunts on his family’s history, and even makes a journey to Seoul, he connects the social, cultural and political dots, eventually tracing the story of how his family came to bear Japanese names. The film itself is also a family collaboration, with sister Masako – who regularly appears as Tesuaki’s sounding board – serving as narrator. 

This film will be shown on a double-bill with:

How I Survive in Kawaguchi City
Kenji Murakami, 2003, 30 min
Japanese with English subtitles 

Kenji Murakami moved to seemingly non-descript Kawaguchi to save on rent and train fare, but he has so far successfully avoided his new neighbourhood. When he embarks on training for the annual marathon, he finds the excuse he needed to playfully explore his surroundings, camera in tow.

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