Iwanami bankruptcy

Aaron Gerow gerow
Thu Dec 10 20:43:55 EST 1998

The papers reported that Iwanami Productions (Iwanami Eiga), the single 
largest force in the Japanese postwar documentary world, has filed for 
bankruptcy with a debt exceeding 1.2 billion yen.  Its high-cost 
productions were simply not producing a profit as orders from government 
and industry have declined drastically during the economic downturn.  Its 
total income from last year was reportedly half of what it was 5 years 

Iwanami was formed after the war as an arm of Iwanami Shoten (the 
publisher) and quickly became the leader in educational and industry PR 
film production.  Its high standards of quality also made it an excellent 
training ground for young cinematic talent.  Not only great 
documentarists like Tsuchimoto Noriaki, Ogawa Shinsuke, Haneda Sumiko, 
and Tokieda Toshie, but also some of the most important postwar fiction 
film directors like Hani Susumi, Teshigahara Hiroshi, Higashi Yoichi, and 
Kuroki Kazuo all got their start at Iwanami.  Top cinematographers like 
Tamura Masaki and Suzuki Tatsuo were also trained there.  The history of 
Iwanami shows how much the the documentary and fiction film worlds were 
closely joined in Japan from the late 1950s on, in terms of both 
personnel and conceptions of cinema (the Ao no Kai at Iwanami was one of 
the big thinking grounds for reshaping Japanese film).  It is not an 
overstatement to say that without Iwanami, not just postwar Japanese 
documentary, but all of post-New Wave Japanese cinema would have been 
completely different.

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
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