Towards a Cinema of Absence: Sato Makoto in the Japanese and International Context
Keywords:Japan documentary, Absence, Experimental Documentary, Sato Makoto, Ogawa Pro
This paper explores the last three documentaries made by Japanese filmmaker Sato Makoto before his early death in 2007. Self and Others (2000), Memories of Agano (2004), and Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said (2005). They are not only a prime example of his uniqueness in the recent history of Japanese cinema, but also a triptych that, albeit in retrospect, could put Sato on the international documentary map and give him the rightful place in the history of cinema. This is at least one of the goals of this essay. These works also reflect and partially crystallize some of the main developments undertaken by Japanese documentary in the last fifty years. In addition, I analyze how Sato was also a very “international” documentarian: Curious and aware of what was going on in the documentary scene around the world and always open to exploring and charting new territories, as he was also a theorist who authored some very important volumes on nonfiction cinema, his last movies have an essayistic and experimental quality that bears a close affinity to the works of Chris Marker and Trinh T. Minh-ha.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Matteo Boscarol
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