MURA NO FUJIN GAKKYU
Scen.: Sumiko Haneda. F.: Shizuo Omura. Su.: Zen’ichiro Sakurai. Prod.: Teizo Oguchi per Iwanami. 16mm. Bn.
Haneda’s debut as full director, made after four years spent as an assistant, is set in a farming village in Shiga Prefecture (east of Kyoto). The film depicts the traditional architecture, lifestyles and customs of the village, its agricultural and domestic labour, but its central focus, as with many of Iwanami’s early films, is on education. Haneda records the experiences of the village children in a moderately progressive school, and juxtaposes their education with a series of meetings in which the mothers gather to read and discuss their children’s work – including essays written about the mothers themselves. Haneda records events with characteristic patience and attention, making space for the women to speak for themselves; yet she gently disrupts the film’s realism with a charmingly incongruous score mostly composed of Western classical standards. The atmosphere of the village and the spontaneity of the human subjects make this a beguiling document of a now-vanished rural Japan.
Alex Jacoby and Johan Nordström