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IM Heung-soon, Eiji Oguma, James T. Hong & Yin-Ju Chen, Mitsuo Sato / Kyoichi Yamaoka, Prokino

Curated by Asakusa
Co-hosted by Sanya Production and Screening Committee


共催:「山谷」 制作上映委員会

13 MAY - 28 MAY

Asakusa is delighted to announce the opening of "Kino-Pravda: A Tribute to Prokino": a screening exhibition with a dedicated archive of newsreels and periodicals by the filmmakers' collective Prokino (1929-1934), and a day-long programme of contemporary documentaries which seeks to explore social psychologies, site-specific memories, and historical truths. In the tradition of cinematic realism that inspired Prokino filmmakers, presented works portray the lives of people in distrust, and turn the screen into a site of persecution and protest. With each work pointing to a singular political event, the exhibition considers core subjects of modern politics including class struggle, state crimes, and violence, reflected in today's post-ideological conditions where documentary images are subsumed by neutralizing rhetoric of the media space. The title "Kino-Pravda", or "Film-Truth" in Russian, refers to a pioneering newsreel series in the early 20th century by Dziga Vertov, which constructed fragments of present actuality to reveal a deeper truth, otherwise inconceivable to the naked eye.

Marked as a historical point of reference will be the short films of Prokino (The Proletarian Film League of Japan, 1929-34), a collective body of young leftist filmmakers active only 5 years. During increased tensions of an anti-communist campaign, leading politician Yamamoto Senji was assassinated by a right-wing activist. The news was followed by the sudden suicide of Communist Party chairman, Watanabe Masanosuke, after being tracked down during his exile in Taiwan. The Worker-Farmer Funeral of Yamamoto Senji (1929), by the Kyoto branch of Prokino, is an 11 minute video footage shot in 16mm that records a combined funeral for both leaders, wherein participant workers and taxis formed a procession line from the Kyoto Station to Yamamoto's home. The Tokyo branch of Prokino's The 12th Annual Tokyo May Day (1931) is the only remaining trace of their May Day films from 1927 to 1932, and shows the end of the parade route and a rally in Ueno Park. In other works such as Earth, (1931: dir. Ko Shukichi), and All Lines (1932: Screenplay and dir. Furukawa Ryo), the news film features are mixed with elements of staging and reenactment, where the heightened gestures constitute a critique of labour struggle in the Marxist tradition. Prokino was forced to dissolve in 1934 due to clean-up arrests of its members.

Screened alongside and in a separate room will be four full-length – and relatively recent - documentaries. Mitsuo Sato & Kyoichi Yamaoka's Sanya - Attack to Attack (1985) shows the abysmal conditions of day laborers in the impoverished Sanya district at the high time of Japan's economic growth. Illustrating violent conflicts of the labourers against local Yakuza exploiters and eventually costing the lives of both film directors, the film ends with a remark about their fellow workers from the Korean Peninsula.

IM Heung-soon's Jeju Prayer (2012) reflects on this causality through the silence of Mrs. Kang Sang-hee, who lost her husband in the Jeju Uprising (An attempted insurgency followed by an anti-communist suppression in 1948). It sheds light on the intersection of a personal family history and collective trauma systematically obliterated in modern Korean history, while suggesting the concurrent rise of eco-tourism and militarisation through the recent controversy about the construction of a naval base on the island.

Uncovering the manipulation of state media, Taiwanese American filmmaker duo James T. Hong & Yin-Ju Chen confront Japanese historical revisionism with their documentary, Lessons of the Blood (2010). Consisting of archival materials, film clips, and interviews with survivors, the film exposes Japan's use of biological weapons and human experimentation during the Second World War outside Harbin, China, and reveals the open wounds of elderly victims, who have suffered for years and still harbor hatred for their Japanese perpetrators. Sociologist known for radical demystification of official histories by testimonial records, Eiji Oguma presents his new and only film production Tell The Prime Minister (2015), the 109 minute film documenting an anti-nuclear demonstration, which gathered over 200,000 people, otherwise unreported by existing media coverage. Bringing together found videos from the internet, and the interviews with individuals including ex-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, it projects compound viewpoints through multiple lenses and converges on issues around the Fukushima catastrophe and the nuclear state apparatus.

The end of the 20th century faced the closure of an epoch marked by ideological confrontation. Although the subsequent era blurred the distinction between political opponents and neutralised the relevance of the ideological struggle, the contemporary media demonstrates that it is developing again with renewed vigour. As societies fail to cope with renewed challenges of a post-ideological world, the documentary screen may well serve as a catalysis for historical contradictions. What is an ideology in the cinema of testimony? What constitutes the bias of the medium? How is it possible to conceive a visio-historical dialogue through reconstruction of cinematic truth?

"Kino-Pravda: A tribute to Prokino" is curated by Asakusa with support by Sanya Production and Screening Committee and publisher, Rokka Shuppan.


本展の参照点となるのは、大正新興芸術運動と深い関わりをつ映画制作者集団プロキノ(日本プロレタリア映画同盟、1929-34年)による活動です。 反共主義が深まるなか、京都の社会運動家山本宜治が右翼活動家によって刺殺され、亡命地台湾で自殺した共産党書記長渡辺政之輔の悲報がこれに続きました。プロキノ京都支部が16ミリカメラで撮影した《山宣渡政労農葬》(1929年)は、この二人の指導者に向けられた追悼であり、官憲の厳しい監視のなか京都駅から山本邸へと続く葬列を記録しています。東京プロキノによる《第12回東京メーデー》(1931年)は、芝浦埋立地から始まるパレードが上野公園に向かうまでの様子をとどめており、プロキノが撮影した中では現存する唯一のメーデー映画です。富山県の大沢野村小作争議を記録した《土地》(1931年 監督:高周吉)や東京市電争議の《全線》(1932年 脚本・演出 古川良)では、再現映像や事後的な演出によってセミドキュメンタリーの形態をとり、マルクス主義の理念に基づいた階層の連帯を強調しています。

プロキノのアーカイブに並行して暗室で上映されるのは、近年に制作された4本のドキュメンタリー映画です。佐藤満夫、山岡強一による《山谷—やられたらやりかえせ》(1985年)は、労働者の町 山谷での日雇い労働者と、彼らを一元的に管理しようとする暴力団に対する激しい闘いを


台湾のアメリカの映画制作者デュオ ジェームズ・T・ホング&イン・ジュ・チェンによる《歴史の血痕》(2010年)は、太平洋戦争時に日本軍が開発・使用した細菌兵器に関する当時の保存資料、映像クリップ、生存者へのインタビューで構成され、ハルビンで行われた人体実験と今日に至る被害者の苦痛を描くことで、日本における歴史の修正主義に抗しています。膨大な証言をもとに知の脱神話化をすすめる歴史社会学者小熊英二は、福島原発事故の翌年に、20万人以上の人々を集めた反核デモを収録(《首相官邸の前で》2015年)。既存メディアに黙殺された大規模デモを、菅直人元首相を含む8名のインタビューと、インターネットに投稿された動画映像など参加者個々のレンズを通じて多角的に編集し、変革の新たな方法を模索する現代日本の政治運動のあり方を記述しています。




— Prokino (The Proletarian Film League of Japan, 1929-34)
— Masato Sato (1947, Niigata - 1984, Tokyo)
— Kyoichi Yamaoka (Hokkaido, 1940 - 1985, Tokyo)
— IM Heung-soon (1969, South Korea)
— James T. Hong
— Yin-Ju Chen
— Eiji Oguma (1962, Tokyo)

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