Extreme Cinema. The Action Documentaries of Kazuo Hara
The Action Documentaries of Kazuo Hara

I try to forcibly generate action with the camera. I try to wrench it into existence. With deliberate force.

— Kazuo Hara

Among the most vital, courageous and controversial documentary filmmakers active today, Kazuo Hara (b. 1945) is best known for a series of passionately confrontational films—or “action documentaries” as he terms them—made in close collaboration with a series of extraordinary activists and agitators. From the cerebral palsy victims turned disabled-rights champions in Sayonara CP to the vociferously anti-Imperialist WWII veteran Kenzo Okuzaki in The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On and the outspoken novelist Mitsuharu Inoue in A Dedicated Life, Hara’s fascinating films closely follow firebrand iconoclasts in pursuit of often perilous causes. Rejecting any kind of detached or “objective” position, Hara instead deliberately inserts his camera (and small crew) into the heat of the moment to capture, and sometimes even to instigate, revelatory confrontations that lay bare repressed secrets and unsettling truths. Hara’s films often bring the viewer uncomfortably close to their difficult subjects, generating a discomfort that forces the viewer to question what exactly a documentary can and should represent. The radical intimacy of Hara’s cinema reached a bold climax with Extreme Private Eros, a diaristic portrait of Miyuki Takeda—Hara’s ex-lover and mother to his child—after she leaves Hara in search of a new sexual and political identity. Holding his own raw emotions and investments up for scrutiny, Extreme Private Eros is a milestone in self-critical documentary and a powerful study of the stakes and limits of sexual revolution. With his long-awaited new film, the decade-in-the-making Sennan Asbestos Disaster, Hara adds a new dimension to his action documentary: a slower, more patient mode of cinematic intervention that seeks to understand the collective voice of marginalized victims and the power of a community to challenge the state.

The Harvard Film Archive is thrilled to welcome Kazuo Hara and his long-time producer Sachiko Kobayashi for a special screening of his latest film as well as his now-classic Extreme Private Eros. We are also extremely proud to premiere new film prints of Sayonara CP and Extreme Private Eros acquired by the HFA for its collection, from Kazuo Hara.

Current and upcoming programs

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Weekend Matinee

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The B–Film Low–Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935–1959

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The Touch of Memory. The Films of Sofia Bohdanowicz

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Godfrey Reggio, Cinematic Seer

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An Evening with Margaret Honda

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The McMillan–Stewart Fellowship: Dieudo Hamadi

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Vitalina Varela

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Cinema of Resistance

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Uncomfortably Yours. The Films of Alex Ross Perry