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    Tracing tendencies in the Japanese documentary mode

    Centeno Martin, Marcos Pablo and Raine, M. (2020) Tracing tendencies in the Japanese documentary mode. [Editorial/Introduction]

    Editorial Paper. Published 21.09.2020.pdf - Published Version of Record
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    The documentary mode has not had the recognition it deserves in the western historiography of Japanese cinema. The ‘discovery’ of that cinema at film festivals in Europe and the United States in the 1950s, and the growth of academic and popular writing that followed, prioritized aesthetic and cultural difference and obscured Japan’s contribution to the documentary mode. Canonical authors such as Donald Richie, who was instrumental in introducing Japanese cinema to the West, even claimed that Japan did not have a true documentary tradition due to the apparent preference of the Japanese audience for stylisation over realism, a preference that originated from its theatrical tradition (Richie 1990, p. 60). And yet, over 130,000 documentary films were made between 1945 and 2010 (Murayama 2010, pp. 240–46), and postwar Japanese documentary films regularly won prizes at specialist film festivals.1 Beyond documentary film production itself, a closer look at the history of Japanese feature film production also calls Richie’s assertion into question. “Semi-documentary” and “documentary touch” were clichés of postwar feature film criticism, in response to a renewed emphasis on actuality and ordinary life in at least one strand of Japanese studio and independent production. This special issue, Developments in Japanese Documentary Mode, seeks to challenge the predominance of fiction film in the literature on Japanese cinema, and in particular the assumption of a stylised Japanese aesthetic. It reveals a broad sense in Japan of the film medium as connected to material and phenomenological authenticity, even as that rhetorical effect was sometimes put in service to political and economic ideologies.


    Item Type: Editorial/Introduction
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): japanese documentary film, non fiction
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Marcos Pablo Centeno Martin
    Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2021 09:36
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:49


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