“On the other side of the bay from Minamata, on the islands off the coast of Amakusa and Kagoshima, I spent over a hundred some days going around showing Minamata films with my staff with a simple intention: I knew that although there were many Minamata victims there, through pressure from either the villages or fishing organizations, they wouldn’t allow the film to be shown. At first I didn’t think I would take my staff. I was in the peak of my filmmaking days then and said, ‘Have the supporters of the Minamata case do the showings.’ But in the 1970s the people who supported the Minamata cause were called communists, Trotskyists, and terrorists. Since Takita Osamu from Pre-Partisans had gone underground, and I as a result had my house searched by the police, you could tell they were treating me as a ‘terrorist director.’
However, when the people who made the film say, ‘We want to offer a chance to the people who need to see this most,’ and go off on their own to the polluted areas and villages showing the film, no one can stop them. If you try, then it’ll get done.”
“More significant, though, is the way in which Tsuchimoto shapes and develops a discourse on best practice and the specific nature of a documentary film: not simply an objective record of an available, pre-existing reality but a malleable form, a canvas as open to and decisively marked by questions of aesthetics as any feature. More than almost any other single documentary, Minamata – The Victims and Their World] refers one back to John Grierson’s statement that documentaries should be ‘the creative treatment of actuality’.”
“Shinsuke Ogawa and Noriaki Tsuchimoto were two directors who had a huge impact on me. I aspired to be like them. Even in my previous project, Nippon Asbest Village (Sennan Asbestos Disaster, 2016), I consciously worked on it as if it was a production from the Ogawa Pro filmmaking collective. Minamata Mandara (Minamata Mandala, 2020) was a more direct continuation of Tsuchimoto’s work. One may ask, why am I obsessed with the work of Ogawa and Tsuchimoto? They were pioneers. They prepared a methodology that opened up the world for us, so we can follow and develop their ideas. I firmly believe that this is because there is something inside their minds that wasn’t present abroad, which became characteristic of them.”
“The roots of Minamata disease are different from those of other human diseases... It is a form of chemical poisoning whose destructiveness is, at heart, a reaction against human beings caused by [the drive towards] ‘civilization’... Since the discovery of the disease, industry has interfered with the discovery of its cause, in a cover-up going all the way to the prefectural and national governments. That this obstruction has fundamentally not been overcome, even today, testifies to the fact that Minamata disease is, in addition to being a disease of the human body, a thoroughly social disease.”
- 1. Noriaki Tsuchimoto in Aaron Gerow, “Documentarists of Japan, No. 7 Tsuchimoto Noriaki,” Documentary Box 8 (Yamagata: YIDFF Publications, 1995) 6-14.
- 2. Adam Bingham, “Filmmaking as a Way of life: Tsuchimoto, Ogawa, and Revolutions in Documentary Cinema,” Asian Cinema, 20.1 (2009): 166-175.
- 3. Kazuo Hara in Łukasz Mańkowski, “The Violence of Privacy: A Conversation with Kazuo Hara”, Senses of Cinema, 2021.
- 4. Via Courtisane Festival 2019 program.