the eerie silence on KineJapan is maddening!

shota ogawa shota.ogawa at
Fri Mar 18 02:38:41 EDT 2011

Sometimes, it is difficult to respond so spontaneously.
The more implicated you are in the situation in Japan, it's difficult to
translate the feelings into critical writing.
Remember how long it took for leftist Americans to be able to start writing
about 9/11 without feeling like you're risking your
posiition, or alienating the masses.
If Kine-Japan has been silent, I'd take that as a sign of just how much
"implicated" people feel in the crisis.
Perhpas it is now time to use our critical faculty to start challenging the
worrying trend of "ethiccal" totalitarianism (perhaps it is enough to
mention the cruelty of turning the inhumane work condition of the Tepco
workers into humanist "heroic" stories), but
I'd say it is a political choice to determine the right time to launch this.

a confused thought, no doubt, but I needed to posit this anti-intellectual


2011/3/18 <frannyandzoey at>

> I just wanted to say that things are really horrifying and devastating in
> the northern regions which are affected directly by the earthquake and
> tsunami, but in Tokyo things are basically fine and normal given the present
> impeding circumstances.  Of course, one can make oneself panicked by fearing
> about a possible nuclear power plant disaster like Chernobyl, or another big
> earthquake but most Japanese are calmly watching the situation, praying for
> the people working hard in directly dealing with the situation, those who
> themselves or their families are affected by the earthquake. Many foreigners
> who live in Tokyo have fled from Tokyo to safer areas, which is totally
> understandable, but makes me feel a little distant.
> I don't think the NFC and its archive have been damaged by the quake. I
> checked the website and they're going to be closed till the 18th due to
> electricity shortage, not the damage, I think. Their buildings are rather
> newly built after the big fire in the 1980s, so they are supposed to be well
> equipped and prepared to hold the tremor of Japanese scale 5, if not
> magnitude 9.0.
> It took me a week to actually take a look at this mailing list. It's just
> the way it is when one is experiencing a disaster like this, and I am not
> even affected, unlike those who have to live in the shelters with shortage
> of food, heat in the snowy cold weather, fear of radiation disaster, on top
> of everything, let alone having instantly deprived of their homes and loved
> ones... All they have is nothing but debts or mortgage of a house or a
> tractor that no longer exists or whatever they lost.  But still many of them
> appreciate concerns and thoughts from people all over the world.
> Yes, we could definitely use a little compassion and generosity.
> Ayako Saito
> Tokyo
> > -----$B85$N%a%C%;!<%8(B-----
> > $B:9=P?M(B: "ReelDrew at" <ReelDrew at>
> > $B<u<h?M(B: "KineJapan at" <
> KineJapan at>
> > $BF|IU(B: 11/03/18 12:26
> > $B7oL>(B: the eerie silence on KineJapan is maddening!
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > &#65533;
> > I have been a member of KineJapan for the last ten years. I joined
> > originally out of a need to obtain translations of the intertitles of
> Japanese
> > silents on VHS in my collection. I am very grateful to those members on
> > KineJapan who aided me and made it possible for me to, among other
> things, write
> > an article on Hiroshi Shimizu that is published on Midnight Eye.
> > &#65533;
> > Since then, I have regularly received almost daily the messages that have
> > been posted here. In all honesty, a large number--perhaps the majority,
> in
> > fact--have been of limited interest to me inasmuch as they tend to deal
> with
> > contemporary Japanese films. Consistent with my enthusiasm for films in
> other
> > countries, including my own, produced in&#65533;earlier decades, it is my
> interest
> > in the Japanese cinema of the past, especially the films of the 1920s and
> 1930s,
> > that has been of consuming interest to me. Nevertheless, from time to
> time
> > issues involving those golden years do come up here.
> > &#65533;
> > However, whether or not the topic has been of particular interest to me,
> I
> > have always valued the fact that KineJapan has always been there, an
> > extremely&#65533;valuable resource to be consulted when needed. Never
> before since
> > I've been here did this group shut down. Certainly, it was very active
> right
> > through the events of 9/11 as were other film discussion groups in which
> I
> > participated.
> > &#65533;
> > Since the tragic events that began a week ago, though, this place has
> > suddenly turned into a ghost town. Aside from a very limited amount of
> posts
> > specifically on the topic of the tsunami, there has been absolutely
> nothing
> > here. No one has even bothered to post how things are going on in Tokyo,
> while
> > all sorts of wild, apocalyptic rumors circulate unchecked in the US that
> Tokyo
> > is about to become irradiated, that it&#65533;may be&#65533;doomed. I
> believe a few
> > welcome posts here from knowledgeable people in the Japanese capital
> might help
> > to clarify the situation and perhaps alleviate some of these fears.
> > &#65533;
> > I have had a consuming obsession with early Japanese cinema for the last
> 36
> > years. In trying to interest people in the West in this topic and to
> recognize
> > the value of Japanese films from those years, I have long had to confront
> an
> > enormous amount of indifference and insensitivity to these achievements
> by too
> > many in America and elsewhere in the outside world. It has taken so long
> to
> > bring attention to these films here. Indeed, it was only this January
> that the
> > premier venue for classic cinema in the United States, Turner Classic
> Movies,
> > after being on the air for 17 years, finally presented three Japanese
> > silents--Ozu's famous masterpieces, "Tokyo Chorus," "I Was Born, But. .
> .," and
> > "Passing Fancy." So it is only very recently that this neglected period
> of
> > Japanese film is just starting to receive some recognition here.
> > &#65533;
> > Given this obession of mine, I would very much like to know how the
> > archives and other collections of Japanese cinema are coping with the
> current
> > crisis in Tokyo. Are they able to function normally in their work of
> > preservation considering the power blackouts etc.? If there really should
> be an
> > evacuation of the capital, has there been discussion of removing films
> and other
> > cultural treasures from Tokyo to Kyoto, a much safer city and which I
> personally
> > feel should be restored to the position of Japan's capital?
> > &#65533;
> > As to whether now is the proper time to discuss the preservation of
> culture
> > in view of the terrible loss of life and the continuing threat, I believe
> that,
> > far from being at odds or incompatible, the preservation of human life
> and
> > humanity's cultural heritage are inseparable. The heroic people of Egypt
> have
> > shown all of us the way recently in this area. During a time of turmoil
> in which
> > a corrupt, discredited dictatorship was attempting to hang on to power by
> > employing ruthless methods against the protestors, demonstrators
> courageously
> > appeared to form human chains around the Library in Alexandria and the
> Egyptian
> > Museum in Cairo to protect these treasures of our history. I would hope
> that,
> > should it ever&#65533;become necessary, a similar sense of cultural
> responsibility
> > will be demonstrated in other countries, including Japan. The heritage of
> Japan,
> > including its film history, is the common property not just of one
> country but
> > indeed, the legacy of all the people of the earth.
> > &#65533;
> > In all those non-Western countries that the West chose to lump together
> as
> > "Oriental," for much of the 20th century the four most significant in
> terms of
> > creating outstanding cinemas in the first half of the last century were
> Japan,
> > China, India, and Egypt. This preeminence in the new art of film was
> emblematic
> > of these nations' continuing cultural leadership in the modern world. In
> terms
> > of documenting and preserving the national film heritage, however, Egypt
> under
> > the Mubarak regime was scandalous. The Egyptian film archive was by far
> the
> > worst run in the entire world, mismanaged by members of Mubarak's family.
> So
> > neglected was the state of the archive that it was a common sight to see
> rats
> > crawling out of cans of film in the vaults. The situation with the
> Egyptian
> > archive was thus symptomatic of the larger ills afflicting the society
> under the
> > corrupt regime that ruled Egypt for thirty years. Needless to say, with
> the
> > present rebirth of Egypt through revolution there is a far greater hope
> that the
> > glories of Egyptian cinema from its bright beginnings in the silent era
> to
> > the&#65533;achievements of later decades will be at last properly
> preserved.
> > &#65533;
> > While the infrastructure of Japan including its archives can hardly
> compare
> > to&#65533;its counterparts in Egypt in the Mubarak years, there has
> nevertheless
> > been a steady decline in Japan in the two decades since the economic
> bubble
> > burst in the early 1990s.&#65533;Egypt is now&#65533;trying to recover
> from a social
> > disaster, Japan from a natural one exacerbated, it seems, by a variant of
> the
> > same corruption and cronyism that&#65533;long afflicted Egypt. I think
> Japan, like
> > Egypt, will need to transform itself anew, but as with Egypt, that
> > transformation must be solidly based on the preservation and
> dissemination of
> > past achievements including&#65533;a glorious legacy of early cinema.
> > Consequently,&#65533;in addition to my general concern at the eerie
> silence that
> > has suddenly taken over KineJapan, as though all its members have been
> struck
> > dumb, I would in particular like to know how the film archives and other
> > institutions consecrated to&#65533;cinema history in Japan are faring
> during the
> > present crisis.
> > &#65533;
> > William M. Drew&#65533;
> > &#65533;
> >

Shota Ogawa
Ph.D. Student
Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies
424 Morey Hall
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627
Eastman-eiga $B!J(BJapanese$B!K(B <>
OnFilm Project (English) <>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the KineJapan mailing list