Sunday, October 24, 2004

Truths of Consequence

Program 1: Mercury and Minamata, Tsuchimoto's Shiranui Sea

California College of the Arts

One of Japan’s foremost documentarians, Tsuchimoto Noriaki has dedicated much of his career to exploring the consequences of environmental disaster, especially those associated with Minamata disease, the result of mercury dumping in southwest Japan’s stunningly beautiful Shiranui Sea. Over 35 years, Tsuchimoto made a number of films with and about the people of Minamata, films that played a crucial role in publicizing the long-term effects of mercury poisoning and that argued for corporate responsibility. Shiranui Sea (1975) is a tender and exquisitely photographed observational portrait of a community and a region that lives-and sometimes still denies-the horrific consequences of industrial negligence. Tsuchimoto’s rapport with his subjects, the grace of his camera-eye, and the continuing relevance of the topic make this a masterpiece of nonfiction film. (Irina Leimbacher)