Long overdue, this comprehensive retrospective devoted to the work of a giant of documentary cinema, Shinsuke Ogawa (1936-92), will bring more than a dozen of his films to North America for the first time in many years. While his films did circulate internationally when they were first released, Ogawa has been unaccountably neglected in the Western world in the decades since. With this series we hope to re-focus attention on his extraordinary, incisive and deeply committed body of work.
Fearlessly devoted to radical politics and to collective production, Ogawa began his career making films about the student movement, before turning his cameras on the increasingly violent conflict between the authorities and farmers who were being threatened with eviction to make way for the construction of the proposed Narita International Airport. Rejecting the notion that a documentary filmmaker must remain a detached observer of the events he or she records, Ogawa and his collaborators (who together formed Ogawa Productions, or “Ogawa Pro”) threw themselves into the protracted struggle, producing seven films over the course of almost a decade.
After the waning of the Sanrizuka protests, Ogawa and his colleagues soon came to devote themselves to an equally ambitious project, relocating to Yamagata Prefecture and beginning a series of films focusing on the rural village of Magino. Living and working with the farmers they filmed, the collective created an astonishing, unique portrait of a culture and a way of life that are rarely depicted. Remarkable both for his unforgettable films and for his radical approach to documentary cinema, Ogawa has been hugely influential within Japan and Asia and deserves to be far more widely known in the U.S. – Jed Rapfogel, Anthology Film Archives