MACHI NO SEIJI – BENKYO SURU OKAASAN
F.: Suehiro Fujise. Prod.: Iwanami. 16mm. Bn.
This engaging documentary focuses on a group of ‘studying mothers’ who decide to involve themselves in the civic politics of a provincial town, Kunitachi. Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano writes that “the film depicts its postwar growth and development in its dual guises as a college town and as a centre of culture and learning.” Seen today, the film preserves a valuable record of a locale long since merged into the Tokyo metropolis, while hinting at the political questions then confronting it as the women study the municipal budget and reflect on educational provision for their children. Tokieda herself remarked that she wanted “to suggest that politics is not something that is out of reach, but something that can be improved by our own efforts.”
Tokieda believed she was chosen to direct because Iwanami thought an inexperienced filmmaker might adopt an original approach. With charming self-deprecation, she later remarked: “All of the staff on that film were about 27 years old. We were a bunch of know-nothings stuck together in a rented house, arguing as we filmed. We probably spent more time arguing than filming, actually. Once we got to post-production, it was all, ‘I want to say this,’ ‘I want to say that’ … and we weren’t able to pull it all together … People called us ‘Iwanami University’ back then; we were learning while we worked.” Tokieda would go on to document the Chinese Cultural Revolution in Yoake no kuni (Land of the Dawn, 1967).
Alex Jacoby e Johan Nordström