/ News / Festival Daily
/ News / Festival Daily
Hara Kazuo Master Class: Eternal Flame of Rage

EVENT / MEET THE AUDIENCE / HIGHLIGHT | 27/03/2018

A headache for politicians, yet a critical voice for the marginalized, Hara Kazuo has generated a series of shocking documentaries challenging the mores of postwar Japan through stark, revelatory modes of presentation. His latest work, Sennan Asbestos Disaster, documents the struggle and suffering of asbestos workers in their long battle against the government. In his Master Class on 25 March at the Hong Kong Arts Centre Cinema, the director discussed his highly original approach to filmmaking.

Originally a photographer, Hara’s leap into outlaw filmmaking was actually inspired by a woman—more precisely, he recalled, a beautiful and charming young girl who came to his photo exhibition and asked for his help in making her first documentary. That girl later became his wife.

In the next 30 years, Hara’s acclaimed output includes The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987), which stunned audiences with its highly critical and controversial approach. His subjects—in particular, the World War II veteran Okuzaki Kenzo—are known to be strong, provocative figures who dare to challenge society in radical ways. In the last decade, however, Hara said he could no longer find such people. “The era has changed,” he said. “In the Showa period [the reign of Emperor Hirohito], those hard-boiled people had room to survive, but today they no longer exist.” Hara attributed this to the Japanese government’s increased power to control and suppress its citizens.




For a decade after his film The Many Faces of Chika (2005), Hara was unable to find a suitable subject. When a TV station approached him about the asbestos disaster, he hesitated at first because he was uncertain if the subject matter would make an interesting film. Unlike his previous characters, the asbestos victims are just ordinary people. When he reached out to them, he found it odd that these victims showed no anger. He thought: “How can they be so polite in requesting for compensation and justice? Shouldn’t they strongly denounce their oppressive government?” He couldn’t help coming out from behind the camera and urging them to take stronger action.

Though he has been known to wield the camera as a tool of righteous aggression, in Sennan Asbestos Disaster, Hara’s camera is more observational and reactive. Why such a change? Hara stressed that he still treats his camera and body as one: the lenses are his eyes. Through his camera, he stares into his subjects’ state of mind, grasping and reflecting their emotions and desires often before they recognize them themselves.

This time, however, he encountered some difficulties. These ordinary people did not let him in. They kept their privacy, not disclosing their inner thoughts. “I wanted to get close to them, yet I’m aware of the violence of camera. I cannot disregard their feelings,” he considered. Yet, he endeavored to illuminate the 20 victims who joined the legal battle, and reflected how this eight-year struggle has changed their lives.

Though recognizing that people have become more indifferent to unfairness and injustice, Hara has resisted this urge. “I dare say that the Prime Minister [Abe Shinzo] is the worst since the Second World War,” he proclaimed. “He has destroyed the democratic system.” Even now, Hara remains dedicated to following his passions and tearing down taboos, shocking audiences with the naked truth.

 

Two more acclaimed films by Hara Kazuo will be screened during HKIFF:

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On: next screening is sold out; additional screening will be on 6 April at 9:45pm at The Grand Cinema.

Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974: next screening is sold out; additional screening will be on 7 April at 5:00pm at The Metroplex.

 


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Highlights
BY THE GRACE OF GOD brings a remarkable conclusion to HKIFF43
02/04/2019
NEVER LOOK AWAY: Looking within for your own freedom
02/04/2019
PUTIN’S WITNESS: Why people give up their freedom?
01/04/2019
Winners of HKIFF Firebird Awards Announced
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Face to Face with Sammo Hung: Filmmaker in Focus
31/03/2019
Directors of HONEYLAND reflect on documentarian’s role
31/03/2019
MIDNIGHT FAMILY: a gripping universe seen through a private ambulance
31/03/2019
Jiang Wen Master Class: wits and black humor of the HIDDEN MAN
30/03/2019
I WAS AT HOME, BUT: Feelings of opacity and sense of enigma
29/03/2019
THREE ADVENTURES OF BROOKE: Searching for Chinese traditions in foreign land
29/03/2019
12 SUICIDAL TEENS: Delving into teenagers’ mind Japan
29/03/2019
GIVE ME A RIDE:Feelings of alienation away from hometown
28/03/2019
YOU HAVE THE NIGHT: Of darkness, fear and dilemmas
28/03/2019
All-star Gala Premiere of FIRST NIGHT NERVES‬
28/03/2019
EVERYBODY KNOWS: Divulging the uncomfortable truths of a family
27/03/2019
Exploring Reclamation and Foreign Labor Issues in A LAND IMAGINED
27/03/2019
Realities and dreams mingle in VANISHING DAYS
27/03/2019
World premiere of newly restored THE FLOWER GIRL
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Community Screening: Empathize with women’s struggle through AYKA
26/03/2019
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25/03/2019
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24/03/2019
IN THE CLAWS OF CENTURY WANTING: An urban vision of global poverty
24/03/2019
STILL HUMAN: Embracing dreams in life
23/03/2019
PURE LAND: Laments for the ordinary people
23/03/2019
Revitalizing young people with OUR BODY
23/03/2019
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23/03/2019
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21/03/2019
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21/03/2019
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21/03/2019
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21/03/2019
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20/03/2019
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20/03/2019
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19/03/2019
World Premiere of BODIES AT REST powers up HKIFF43!
18/03/2019
HKIFF43 Kicks Off Tonight!
18/03/2019

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