Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New documentary "ANPO" takes us back to the turbulent 1960's in Japan

by Chris MaGee

It's sometimes hard to see through the psychedelic lens that were the 60's in North America - the music, the drugs, the anti-war movement, free love, race riots, etc. - and realize that the spirit of revolution didn't just take hold in the United States. On the other side of the planet Japan was rocked by the same revolutionary spirit, and in large part it was a reaction to the United States. In January of 1960 the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed in Washington. It extended the presence of military bases on Japanese soil and effectually tightened U.S.-Japanese ties throughout the Cold War. This Anpo Treaty, as its name was shortened to, was the catalyst for bitter demonstrations by Japanese who didn't relish another decade of their country being tied to the United States, and these demonstrations made their way right to the doors of the Japanese Parliament. Now these turbulent times are being brought to the screen in a new documentary.

"ANPO" is being directed by Linda Hoaglund, a name that might not be on the tip of many people's tongues, but on that has been around the Japanese film industry for some time. Born in Kyoto to Christian missionaries Hoaglund has straddled the cultures of both her parentage and her childhood. Fluent in Japanese she has subtitled numerous films, most recently Koji Yakusho's directorial debut "Toad's Oil". Hoaglund was also the co-writer and producer of Risa Morimoto's engrossing documentary "Wings of Defeat" which chronicled a group of surviving kamikaze pilots and their coming to terms with their wartime experiences. As engrossing as "Wings of Defeat" was "ANPO" proves to be up to matching it in terms of important historical information and top notch documentary filmmaking. In the film Hoaglund speaks with a number of key Japanese cultural figures such as veteran filmmaker Kaneto Shindo (The naked Island, Onibaba), artist Hiroshi Nakamura, singer Tokiko Kato, and photographer Miyako Ishiuchi and weaves their stories of how the signing of the Anpo Treaty and the resulting firestorm of demonstrations influenced them as Japanese citizens and as artists.

You can check out an extended series of photos from the film and commentary from those who participated at the film's official site. Fascinating stuff! Thanks to Mainichi Daily News for the details on this.

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