by Nicolás Carrasco
Renowned documentary filmmakers Kazuo Hara and Sachiko Kobayashi were in Colgate University (Hamilton, New York) on June this year as part of the Flaherty Film Seminar, where they screened their first three films as part of the program curated by Shai Heredia. For more than half a century, the Flaherty Seminar has been firmly established as a one-of-a-kind event that seeks to encourage filmmakers and other artists to explore the potential of the moving image.
Among the most vital and controversial filmmakers active today, and working for almost five decades, director Kazuo Hara and his wife and producer Sachiko Kobayashi are best known for a series of passionately confrontational and transgressive documentaries that boldly attack the repressive moral of Japan. Their debut Goodbye CP (1972) shed light on the intense stigma Japan attaches to the disabled and people who have cerebral palsy. Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 is about the director’s relationship with his ex-lover and mother to his child, Miyuki Takeda, who was also a radical feminist. The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1986) chronicles WW2 veteran Kenzo Okuzaki as he exposes shocking war crimes and their cover-up. Rejecting any kind of detached or “objective” point of view, Hara instead deliberately inserts his camera into the middle of the action to capture, and sometimes even to instigate, revelatory confrontations that lay bare repressed secrets and unsettling truths, generating a discomfort that forces the viewer to question what exactly a documentary can and should represent.
During the last days of the Seminar, Desistfilm talked with them about their first years of collaboration, their relationship with the Japanese New Wave, their working methods and these first three films.