Wednesday, November 09, 2011

DOC NYC 2011: Two Short Films About Japan

NEW YORK—The Kenji Fujishima review-writing train merrily rolls along (for now, at least).

Yoshihiro Takishita, from Minka

On Monday night, as part of the ongoing DOC NYC festival, I decided to check out a program of two short documentaries set in Japan, both made by non-Japanese filmmakers. One of them, Minka, is about the intersection of history and architecture; the other, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, is about cultural symbols and the ways in which many Japanese are projecting feelings of both resignation and hope in the cherry blossom now more than ever in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. Both are good, but both also show the benefits and limits of perceiving a culture from an outsider's perspective. All of this I elucidate in my latest House Next Door review.

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, by the way, is on the shortlist for a Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar you may be hearing more about Lucy Walker's film in the near future (a future, it appears, that will not include Brett Ratner as Oscar producer and Eddie Murphy as Oscar host, for those who care about such things).


Greg said...

Both sound interesting, though your review makes Minka sound like the more interesting film, mainly because it focuses so clearly on its subject, which is easier to do than focusing on something as grandiose as the aftermath of a tragedy. Is it?

Kenji Fujishima said...

Yeah, I think I do like Minka a bit more, of the two. Plus, it's shorter than Lucy Walker's film by about half—but somehow manages to pack in more substance.