Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD

Manifesto of the Independent Cinema Guild (独立映画鍋)

It has often been said that a lot of Japan’s best filmmakers get very little love in their home country. Koreeda Hirokazu, Iwai Shunji, Aoyama Shinji and others are often lauded at international film festivals, but their films get limited screen time in Japan, and when I mention them to many of my Japanese friends and co-workers I get a blank stare.

Further, if you’ve visited a Japanese movie theater in the last few years, you may have noticed an influx of movies based on popular TV soap operas, as well as a growing number of imported Korean dramas that follow a similar narrative. In short, people who love thoughtful, occasionally risky Japanese films don’t usually find what they’re looking for at a Japanese movie theater.

So I was happy to see the following email from the KineJapan listserv. It seems that a group of indie film directors, producers, and film festival organizers have banded together to do something about the “lack of diversity” in the domestic film market. Here is the email (I’ve reprinted the manifesto in Japanese as well as in English):


A group of independent filmmakers and media professionals in Japan are launching a new organization for independent cinema – a sort of a “guild” or “co-op” for all practitioners in the field, including directors, producers, film festival organizers, cinema owners, and film critics.

The initiating members are

Co-rep: Tsuchiya Yutaka (Filmmaker: The New God, Peep TV Show)

Co-rep: Fukada Koji (Filmmaker: hospitalité, Human Comedy in Tokyo)

Takagi Yoshie (OurPlanet TV Program Officer)

Date Kotaro (Producer: Saudade)

Date Tomoko (Attorney)

Fujioka Asako (Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival)

Morimoto Shuichi (Filmmaker: Before the Tsunami)

Shiraishi Hajime (NPO Our Planet TV Director)

Here’s the website, welcoming new members and donations for our upcoming activities – study and discussion sessions, to further discussions about the future of this guild.


Aug 24

Lecture on crowdfunding (1) with Otaka Takeshi (Motion Gallery)

Sept 5

Lecture on the state of indie movies in the world (1) with Funahashi Atsushi (Filmmaker: _Nuclear Nation_) About IFP, USA


Following this is the manifesto (first draft English translation) that we published at our first general assembly last month.


Manifesto for the Launch of NPO Dokuritsu Eiga Nabe (Independent Cinema Guild)

The Japanese cinema scene is currently experiencing a severe bipolarization. The most part of revenue in the film industry is dominated by the major companies, who rely on productions based on famous manga and novels featuring TV actors. The acceleration of dropping budgets in independent films sees no slowing down. This has caused a serious imbalance in the diversity of films being produced in this country.

Is this a situation we film professionals really desired?

The passion of independent filmmakers determined to follow through with their principles, and their mental endurance to bear with poverty, just barely stops the film industry from becoming completely overshadowed by commercial values. But passion and endurance can only go so far. When a filmmaker must sacrifice one’s quality of life to complete a film, this is not a “heartfelt drama,” but a situation of cultural poverty.

In order for Japan to protect and sustain its diversity of cinema today, there needs to be stronger public support and less reliance on personal suffering.

When public support reaches a certain maturity and the production/exhibition of independent films is assured, not only will the agony of the indies be overcome, but the main stream cinema will also be freed from the strangleholds of its conventions. Obviously, the audience benefits the most from a widening of film choices.

From this reason, we propose to create a system to support indie filmmakers, those involved in screening indie films, and the environment where this scene lies. We believe that there’s a need for a new public-oriented and sustainable platform interconnecting people, information, and money without having to proclaim battle on the major companies.

To project the diversity of human existence through the film medium; To cultivate the soil so more people can enjoy the fruit of this art – We desire a society where this is possible. Ensuring cinema diversity means to offer Japanese society a place to encounter the diversity of the world, to pursue the possibility of a new democracy which can confront the ills of globalization. With a belief in this commons, we hereby establish Dokuritsu Eiga Nabe (Independent Cinema Guild).

現在、日本映画の現場では極端な二極化が進んでいます。中規模の映画が減少し、興行収入の大半を限られた大手メジャーが占め、インディペンデント映画の 低予算化は歯止めが利きません。一方で、知名度の高い漫画・小説の原作映画や、見慣れた有名俳優に依存した映画ばかりがスクリーンに届くアンバランスな状 態が続いています。これらははたして私たち映画に携わる人間が本当に望んだ状況でしょうか?
自分の意志を貫こうとするインディペンデント・フィルムメーカーの熱意と、彼ら彼女らの貧困に耐え忍ぶ精神力が、日本の映画が押しやられて行くこの状況 をかろうじて食い止めています。しかし、その熱意と精神力にも限界があります。自分の生活、あるいは人生を犠牲にして一本の映画を作り上げるということ は、決して美談ではなく、文化の貧困です。映画の多様性を確保する為には、一個人の忍耐力に頼るのではなく、公共的なサポートが必要なのです。
そして、公共的なサポートのより一層の充実が進み、新たな映画製作/上映環境が現実になれば、それはインディペンデント・フィルムメーカーの置かれた苦 境を改善するに止まらず、ときに不本意な映画作りを余儀なくされる大手メジャーの現状を変化させるきっかけにもなるでしょう。当然、多様な映画を作り届け ることは観客の利益にも繋がります。

私たちは、このような理由からインディペンデント・フィルムメーカーと上映活動に携わる多くの人々、それらを取り巻く環境をサポートするシステムを作り たいと思います。メジャーとインディペンデントの対立的な二元論に陥らず、人、情報、資金を結びつける公共的・持続的なプラットフォームを構築すること が、今求められています。

一人一人の多様な価値観を映画という表現媒体で発信すること。そして、その表現をより多くの人が享受できる土壌を整えること。私たちはそのようなことが 可能な社会を望みます。映画の多様性の創出とは、世界の多様性に触れられる場を社会に提供することでもあり、ひいてはグローバリズムに対抗する「新しい民 主主義」の可能性を広げる公共的な財産であると信じて、私たちはここに「独立映画鍋」を設立します。

June 8, 2012


Check out the website, very cool stuff (it’s in Japanese, though it looks like there are plans to include an English version). It provides a forum where filmmakers can raise money for their projects, sort of like Kickstarter. Looking forward to see what comes of all this.


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This entry was posted on July 25, 2012 by in Film, Japan and tagged , , , , .
Anne McKnight

writing•translation•scholarship on Japan (and a few other things)

A Modern Girl / モダンガール

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