Film Archive: Documentary

Another Afghanistan: Kabul Diary 1985

Another Afghanistan (Tsuchimoto) from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 42 minutes. / color

An engrossing portrait of Kabul in the days before the Taliban, Tsuchimoto’s documentary reveals the everyday life of Afghanis — particularly women — when few foreigners were allowed to film in the country.

Artists in Wonderland

'Artists in Wonderland' (Makoto Sato), from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 93 minutes. / color

This is a film about seven artists. It’s also about seven people who are mentally handicapped. This has all the marks of a Makoto Sato film: the quirky humor and passion for everyday human life.

Ashes to Honey—Toward a Sustainable Future

Ashes to Honey—Toward a Sustainable Future (Kamanaka) from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 116 minitues. / color

For 28 years, the people of Iwaishima Island,  living in the middle of the beautiful Inland Sea, have been opposing a plan to build a nuclear power plant. The island has a 1000-year history during which people have preserved their traditional festival. Takashi, the youngest on the island, is struggling to earn his living. He dreams of a life based on sustainable energy. Meanwhile, communities in Sweden are making an effort to implement such lives. The people living in the Arctic circle have taken action to overcome damage from the global economy. On Iwaishima, Mr. Ujimoto has begun sustainable agriculture by reclaiming abandoned farmlands. But a power company tries to fill in a bay to create man-made land. The people of the island set sail together to stop the construction of the nuclear power plant. A fight breaks out on the sea.

Aya Hanabusa

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纐纈あや Born in 1974. Graduate of Jiyu Gakuen. Joined Pole Pole Times Co. Ltd. in 2001. She worked on projects such as Alexei and the Spring (2001) before becoming a freelance filmmaker. In 2010, she made her directional debut with Holy Island, examining the lives of people of Iwai Island, who continue to protest against […]

Barefoot Gen’s Hiroshima

Barefoot Gen's Hiroshima (Yuko Ishida) from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 77 min. / color

“Through my story, I hope viewers will come to feel closer to a world without war and nuclear weapons. Please ponder that possibility as you watch this film.”—Keiji Nakazawa

With the passing of Nakazawa Keiji in December 2012, Barefoot Gen’s Hiroshima now stands as the manga artist’s last message of peace to the world. Mr. Nakazawa recounts his life, from the aftermath of the atomic bombing up until the days he created his acclaimed manga series Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen), by exploring sites of painful memories in Hiroshima. Through Mr. Nakazawa’s story, and his original art work, Barefoot Gen’s Hiroshima illuminates the nature of war and nuclear weapons, urging us not to repeat the past.


Bingai (Feng Yan) from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 117 . / color

Bingai, a documentary by Feng Yan, a director deeply inspired by Shinsuke Ogawa, has just been added to the Filmmakers’ Market. Bingai won the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize (the grand prize of Asia program) at the Yamagata Film Festival.

Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa

Total running time: Approx. 114 min. / color

沖縄スパイ戦史 *This title is available at Vimeo-on-Demand for private home use only. *Educational streaming licenses are available at Alexander Street. The Battle of Okinawa, in which the arrival of US troops at the end of World War II led to the death of more than 200,000 people, including civilians. Behind it lies a hidden history: […]

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence (Toshikuni Doi), from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 130 minutes. / color

In the spring of 2002, the Israeli army surrounded and attacked the Balata refugee camp. The camera follows residents living in at state of terror and records their lives and feelings.

Chie Mikami

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三上智恵 Journalist and filmmaker. Mikami joined  Mainichi Broadcasting System as an announcer in 1987. In 1995 she moved to Okinawa for the launch of  Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting Corp. While working as  main  anchor for the local news program Station Q, she produced many documentary programs about Okinawan culture, nature, and society including Sitting by the […]

Echoes from the Miike Mine

'Echoes from the Miike Mine,' from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 103 minutes. / color

Seven years in the making, this moving documentary is the first to directly confront the legacy of the Miike coal mine, reviving through eyewitness testimonies 150 years of forced labor, strikes and explosions that modern Japan is still trying to forget.

Flowers & Troops

Flowers & Troops (Matsubayashi) Total running time: Approx. 106 minutes. / color

Inspired by the documentaries of the great Shohei Imamura, under whom the filmmaker studied, this film explores the lives of Japanese soldiers who chose not to return to Japan when the war finished, but who stayed behind in Southeast Asia to build new lives for themselves.

Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape

Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape (Matsubayashi) Total running time: Approx. 109 minutes. / color

The Enei district of Minami Soma town lies within the 20 km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In early April 2011, immediately after the devastating tsunami and nuclear meltdown forced people to evacuate the area, filmmaker Yoju Matsubayashi rushed here with relief goods. From a chance meeting with city councilor Kyoko Tanaka, he began making this film. Living together with the evacuees in school classrooms designated as temporary refuge centers, he captured an extraordinary period in the lives of the local people. Interspersed with humorous episodes and deep emotions, the film delves into memories of a local culture that has been taken away by the tragedy.

Holy Island

Total running time: Approx. 105 minutes. / color

Iwaishima Island, part of Kaminoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture. On this island in the Seto Inland Sea, the 500 residents have been living by helping each other and sharing things, since that was what was necessary to live in such a harsh natural environment.

Little Voices from Fukushima

Total running time: Approx. 119 minutes. / color

Little Voices from Fukushima is a documentary film dedicated to Japanese mothers and children living in the post-meltdown world of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. In the course of telling their stories, Director Hitomi Kamanka takes us to Belarus, where we learn from mothers who experienced the Chernobyl nuclear disaster twenty eight years ago.

Living the Silent Spring

Living the Silent Spring (Masako Sakata), from Zakka Films Total running time: Approx. 87 minutes. / color

The burden of Agent Orange, across generations and across the world—and the courage to face and bear the consequences.

Makoto Yasuhara

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安原眞琴 She holds a Ph.D. in Japanese literature, with research interests covering the literature, art, and culture of medieval and early modern Japan. Teaching at Rikkyo, she happened to meet Madame Minako, and decided to film her. The Last Geisha Madame Minako is her first documentary and has screened all over Japan.