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Sayonara CP

Screening on Film
Directed by Kazuo Hara.
Japan, 1972, 16mm, black & white, 82 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

Hara’s profoundly moving debut film was inspired by his time teaching at a school for disabled children and his ardent desire, born there, to fight against the rarely acknowledged prejudices that kept the disabled out of collective sight and mind. Towards this cause, Sayonara CP offered a difficult yet life affirming meditation on the actual and imagined boundaries between the abled and disabled, centered upon the arresting figure—and body—of Hiroshi Yokota, a person with cerebral palsy and active leader of the Green Lawn Movement dedicated to bringing new consciousness to the needs of the Japanese disabled community. Shot in high contrast black-and-white, Sayonara CP refuses to varnish or sentimentalize in any way the struggle of Yokota and his group, joining them as they take to the streets, leaving aside their wheelchairs to make their own physical condition patently, and painfully, obvious to passersby unaccustomed to seeing nonnormative bodies amongst them. Weaving together interviews with Yokota and his fellow Green Lawn members with those of parents and family of the impaired, as well as the opinions of non-disabled people, Hara creates a polyphonic and complex portrait of a community newly energized by a sense of difficult but real forward movement. Made at a time when the disabled were considered “unseemly” and most often kept inside—or placed in dedicated institutions—Sayonara CP (which was released independently and screened principally in non-theatrical venues) is credited with helping advance the cause of disabled rights in Japan.

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