Tales from the land. A Grasscutter's Tale, a film by Fukuda Katsuhiko (1985)

This special session is an introduction to the work of Fukuda Katsuhiko (1943-1998). After graduating from the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences at Waseda University, Fukuda joined Ogawa Productions during the filming of The Japanese Liberation Front: Summer in Sanrizuka (1968). Ogawa Productions was a filmmaking collective that came together around 1968 and worked as a group for over 30 years, documenting the struggles of the revolutionary student movement as well as the political and territorial struggles and life of rural communities. Fukuda participated in the extraordinary series of seven films the collective made between 1968 and 1978, dedicated to the resistance struggle of peasants and their allies against the construction of Narita International Airport in rural Sanrizuka and violent repression by the state authorities. This included films such as Sanrizuka. The Peasants of the Second Fortress (1970) and Sanrizuka. Heta Village (1973). The filmmakers immersed themselves in the reality they filmed, they participated in the resistance movement, settling in the village of Heta where they lived for years as members of the rural community, whose experiences and trials they recorded with enormous dedication and sensitivity. His first film as a director was a remarkable portrait of the collective at work called Filmmaking and the Way to the Village (1973). He also edited The Story of Magino Village. Raising Silkworms (1977), shot in 8 mm, made when the group moved to Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan, where they continued to live together and make films. Fukuda left the group the same year and remained in Sanrizuka, where he continued to work on a series of 8 mm "film notebooks", chronicling the ongoing struggle against the airport and village life. This includes films such as Sanrizuka has its own agriculture, in Kinone the wind blows from the roots (1979), The Sky is Under a Violent Attack (1979) and The March of the Soil (1981). In 1985 he made The Grasscutter's Tale, an intimate portrait of the life of an old peasant woman who continued to resist in Sanrizuka. The film was made in collaboration with his partner, Hatano Yukie, who produced it, helped shooting and editing the film and did the drawings we see in the film. This work signaled an important shift in documentary practice in Japan, including in its relationship to politics, with a focus on the small gestures and greater emphasis on the personal stories of people. It was an influential film for a number of filmmakers who followed in Fukuda's footsteps and practice. He published books about Sanrizuka, its people and history, as well as a book about the traditional production of saké.

The film will be accompanied by an illustrated presentation by Ricardo Matos, showing extracts from other works by Fukuda, information about his itinerary and images from films influenced by his practice.

A Grasscutter’s Tale | 草とり草紙 by Fukuda Katsuhiko

A Grasscutter’s Tale | 草とり草紙
Fukuda Katsuhiko
Japan, 1985, 88 min, 8 mm in 16 mm, colour, Japanese

A Grasscutter’s Tale | 草とり草紙 by Fukuda Katsuhiko
Promoted by
Gobierno de Navarra
Organized by
With the aid of
Con la financiación del Gobierno de España. Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes Audiovisuales Acción Cultural Española Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia Financiado por la Unión Europea. NexGenerationEU

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