the eerie silence on KineJapan is maddening!

Frederick Veith notreconciled at
Fri Mar 18 01:39:05 EDT 2011


I'm sorry you took my remarks that way. That's certainly not how they
were intended. I didn't mention his name because I had no intention to
attack him personally, but only address the substance of the comment
which I thought was, at a minimum pretty insensitive. I posted my
thoughts about it here only because the account in question was cited
as a resource here and there was an incipient discussion of how people
were responding. Perhaps it was an error in judgment on my part to
single out that remark, but I fail to see how it's cowardly to make
remarks in a public forum under my own name, where they can be freely
responded to by anyone who so chooses, including the author of the
comment. I'm not sure what to make of the idea that there's such a
hard and fast distinction between a "private" Twitter account and a
public forum. Twitter is a publishing platform. Anything said there is
completely public unless the individual account is protected. Twitter
is, if anything, more public than KineJapan. But my apologies to Jason
if he's offended by what I thought was a rather gentle criticism. My
main point was to remind people that now is a time when people, even
those not in direct peril, are in need of compassion.

Best regards,

Frederick Veith

On Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 2:25 PM, Don Brown <ryuganji at> wrote:
> Frederick,
> The person who made the remark (at least have the guts to say his name) made
> it on his personal Twitter account, not on a shared forum such as Kinejapan.
> If you have a problem with it, why not take it up with him directly, instead
> of cowardly posting your opinions here?
> With all due respect,
> Don Brown
> 2011/3/18 Frederick Veith <notreconciled at>
>> With all due respect to the person who made this remark on one of
>> those Twitter accounts, and recognition of the difficulty of
>> communicating nuanced positions in 140 characters, comments like "When
>> expats who fled slowly come back do we get eternal ball-busting
>> rights?" are no more constructive than fear-mongering in the American
>> media. There are a lot of legitimate points that can be made about
>> panic and reasoned analysis of the potential and actual risks, but the
>> last thing anyone struggling to make such determinations for
>> themselves in the face of incomplete and contradictory information
>> needs is self-righteous condescension. I'm completely secure in my
>> decision to exercise caution with regard to my two year old daughter
>> who is much more vulnerable at much lower levels of exposure than I
>> am, and who doesn't need to suffer the hardship of potential shortages
>> or other infrastructural problems that might arise if and when the
>> situation deteriorates. Maybe I'm making too much of an offhand
>> remark, but I think it's important to be respectful in the face of a
>> very difficult situation of other people's reasoned choices about how
>> to look after their own welfare and those they love. Let's try to keep
>> in mind Akihito's entreaty that we all treat each other with
>> compassion.
>> On Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 12:55 PM, Martin Vieillot <eigagogo at>
>> wrote:
>> > for info, you have informative Twitter accounts from some well-informed
>> > KineJapaner's based in Japan:
>> >!/jgtokyo
>> >!/matteoboscarol
>> >!/ryuganji
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > ----- Mail Original -----
>> > De: ReelDrew at
>> > À: KineJapan at
>> > Envoyé: Vendredi 18 Mars 2011 04h26:02 GMT +01:00 Amsterdam / Berlin /
>> > Berne / Rome / Stockholm / Vienne
>> > Objet: the eerie silence on KineJapan is maddening!
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > 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.
>> >
>> > 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 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.
>> >
>> > 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 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.
>> >
>> > 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 may be 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.
>> >
>> > 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.
>> >
>> > 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?
>> >
>> > 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 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.
>> >
>> > 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
>> > achievements of later decades will be at last properly preserved.
>> >
>> > While the infrastructure of Japan including its archives can hardly
>> > compare to 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. Egypt is now 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 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 a glorious legacy of early
>> > cinema. Consequently, in addition to my general concern at the eerie silence
>> > th

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