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Chronicles of Inferno: Japan’s Art Theater Guild

Sunday, February 10, 2013
3:00 p.m. Children Who Draw
Susumu Hani (Japan, 1956)

In Person/Susumu Hani
Introduction/Julian Ross

UPDATE: Mr. Hani regrets that he is unable to visit the Bay Area as planned.

Julian Ross is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Leeds and a commissioning editor of Vertigo Magazine.

(E o kaku kodomotachi). Originally a stills photographer, Susumu Hani began his cinema career at the innovative Japanese publishing company Iwanami, home of a documentary-film division surprisingly receptive to new talent. He then created several innovative documentaries about children, including this observational portrait of children who draw, and one boy in particular, who doesn’t draw well at all. The film observes the minutiae of a child’s daily world, where every moment, and every task, encompasses a lifetime of emotion. “Movies have samurai and beautiful girls, and lots of equipment,” the children told Hani and his crew, who sat among them in class for months. “We cannot believe you are making a movie, so we think the only possibility is that you are very stupid people.”

• Written by Hani. Photographed by Shizuo Komura. (38 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W/Color, 16mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Iwanami Audio-Visual Media Ltd)

Preceded by:
Children in a Classroom
(Susumu Hani, Japan, 1955)

(Kyōshitsu no kodomotachi). Made for the Education Ministry and inventively shot with a telephoto lens and hidden camera to allow its subjects room to be themselves, Children in a Classroom documents just that, yet is as rich and rewarding as any epic. Hani and crew spent months in the class to allow the children time to get used to, and eventually ignore, the equipment and the crew; the result is one of the most naturalistic, heartbreaking portraits of childhood ever made.

(30 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Iwanami Audio-Visual Media Ltd.)

Total running time: 68 mins