Synopsis by Brian Whitener
In the early '70s, the Japanese public's attention was focused on the village of Narita. Here, in a conflict that became increasingly symbolic as it wore on, student radicals joined with the farmers and villagers of Narita to protest the impending demolition of the village to make way for an airport. For Narita: Heta Village, Shinsuke Ogawa, Japan's premier documentary filmmaker, went to live among the peasants and he and his crew stayed for several years. In this unique documentary, the events of struggle around the airport remain outside of the film; all of our knowledge of it is indirect. Instead, the film focuses entirely on the peasants themselves and registers the conflict solely through its effect on their thoughts and lives. Composed entirely of long duration shots, Ogawa allows the film's phenomenal world to unfold slowly through time. The audience watches and listens as a village elder describes the government's destruction of an ancient burial ground. Centuries-old customs, such as the New Year celebration, are rendered exquisitely. As an idea, the form of the documentary is brilliant; as a documentary, Narita: Heta Village is one of the most important produced in the last 50 years and was awarded a Critics' Prize at the Berlin Film Festival.
airport, conflict, farmer, Japanese [nationality], land-war, peasant, protester, resettlement, uprising, village