Video Librarian Review – “Highly Recommended”

November/December 2011 (Volume 26, Issue 6)

ANPO: Art x War ***1/2
(2011) 89 min. DVD: $95: public libraries & high schools; $275: colleges &
universities. New Day Films. PPR. ISBN: 978-1-56592-479-6.

Linda Hoaglund’s documentary focuses on the 1960 controversy surrounding the
renewal of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security -also
known as ANPO-which allowed the U.S. to continue operating nearly 100
military bases across Japan. Significant opposition developed throughout
Japan, but Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi (who had none-too-covert backing
from the CIA) successfully routed his opponents in parliament and ordered
police to use force in putting down public demonstrations staged in Tokyo.
The animosity towards Kishi and the continued presence of American troops
became so intense that a planned state visit by U.S. President Dwight D.
Eisenhower had to be cancelled; Kishi resigned shortly afterwards, his
political career effectively over. Hoaglund examines the 1960 protests
through the creative work and commentary of visual artists who were either
participants or used the events of five decades ago to shape their artistic
output and political philosophy. ANPO features loads of artwork that puts
the U.S. military in a harshly unflattering light (several paintings have
not been publicly displayed in many years), supplemented by vintage newsreel
and photojournalist coverage of the conflict. Present-day American troops
also offer comments as Hoaglund shoots her film. A fascinating documentary
dealing with the development of post-WWII Japan and the history of U.S.
military involvement in Asia, this is highly recommended.

Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)

Lucky Dragon survivor Oishi interview

While filming ANPO, I interviewed Oishi Matahichi, the only survivor of the Lucky Dragon, the fishing boat exposed to massive radiation from the U.S. Hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll in 1954. Unaware of the danger of exposure to radiation (much less that a nuclear bomb had been exploded in their vicinity) the fishing vessel limped back to home port, the crew crippled by radiation poisoning. Later, the radioman died from it. Their widely publicized terrifying experience, and the complete contamination of the entire Pacific catch (over 800 fishing vessels in total) became a rallying cry for a national anti-nuclear campaign, started by Tokyo housewives. In 6 months, they gathered signatures from more than half the adult population. It’s important to remember just how politicized the Japanese public was in the 1950s, culminating the national uprising against U.S. military bases and a CIA funded prime minister in 1960.
One of the unfortunate realities of the editing a documentary film is that some interviews, no matter how compelling, don’t make the final cut. In order to bring my film under 90 mins, I had to cut the entire Lucky Dragon incident. But I’m posting some excerpts from his extended interview below and will post a video of it in April.

Oishi: Our experience of the bomb? The situation was, as usual, the work of tuna fishing starts at 1AM at night. We start working around 1AM and we lay all the nets out to sea and for the next 2 or 3 hours we kill the engine and drift until the fish bite. That’s when the explosion happened. But we had no idea that it was an explosion or a nuclear weapon. But a terrible scene unfolded before our eyes… It was still before dawn and in the instant of the explosion…

9:32 It wasn’t pitch black. The sky was just getting ready for dawn, like that, dawn was just about to arrive, that’s the kind of sky it was. So it wasn’t pitch black but the sky was still dark and so the color of the explosion seemed especially intense to our eyes. The color was just like the color of a sunset. The way a sunset burns the sky, the colors just flowed from one side of the horizon to the other, very swiftly and it stayed that way. It didn’t vanish. That’s what happened and so this was unthinkable under any normal circumstances, but we had no way of even imagining what had happened. And what I thought then was that a natural disaster, like a huge underwater explosion had happened or a meteorite had fallen. My thoughts turned to some kind of natural disaster.

10:45 And, also the sound… If the sound had immediately followed the blast of light you could imagine it was an explosion of some kind but the sound took a while… They say it followed 7 or 8 minutes later, it was a long time before the sound came. And the sound itself was different from the sound of an explosion. It was a roar that came rumbling up from the bottom of the sea.

12:34 I think that must have been the mushroom cloud, but time had passed so it no longer looked like a mushroom and I think its very top must have reached the stratosphere. More than 10 minutes had passed. And then the clouds at the very top began to disintegrate and race towards us at full speed, covering us. But we were upwind. It was unthinkable that a cloud that we were upwind from would cover us, so we were stupefied at all these completely unthinkable things that kept happening one after the other and we were so anxious. Time just kept passing as we all wondered “What is this? What happened?” About one hour and a half later, that white powder started falling on us.

Pure white, it fell down on us just like when it snows, but that was also unthinkable. Why would it snow in the southern sea and why was all this white stuff… So much of it fell on us. We didn’t know what it was.

13:48 It kept falling the whole time we were working so it fell for about 6 hours or so. It kept falling until we finished working. And it was falling so much that it piled up on the deck, just like snow would pile and if you walked on it you could see your footprints in it. On the deck, there’s always water flowing, seawater is always being poured over the deck but still it piled up so I think a huge amount of it fell. The ashes piled up on our bodies, above our headbands if we were wearing them, and we were working shirtless, just in our undershirts so a lot of it fell inside our shirts and piled up under our belts. It pricked and if it was snow it should have melted but it didn’t melt and instead it felt prickly so I couldn’t figure out what it was, but we didn’t have time to shake it off us. Because we were working and we just kept working with it just piled up there.

And then two days later, the places where the ashes had landed on our bodies, started swelling up. Dots of swelling and water was in them. So we wondered what it was but those places where the ashes had piled up started swelling up with water inside them. The surface skin would peel off and we work in the sea and when the saltwater would hit it, the pain was searing, I do remember that.

16:50 I learned later that they were radiation burns. The radiation burns had caused blisters. And about 10 days later, this time we noticed our hair had started to fall out. One of our crew was combing his hair and all this hair came out. We wondered what it was and tried combing our own and although painless, it wastefully fell out. Once that happened, we knew things weren’t normal and we started thinking back over things and decided that the white powder must be the cause of it. That’s what we were thinking when we made it into port. (to be continued)

Korean video for Japan

A tremendously moving video music photo montage from a Korean filmmaker. The the lyrics to the song are below in Korean, Japanese and English. Please help spread to raise funds for the earthquake survivors

가시나무 – The Thorn Tree – とげの木

내속엔 내가 너무도 많아 당신에 쉴곳 없네

僕の中に僕があまりにも多くて あなたの休むところがない

There’s so much of me inside me,
there’s no place for you to rest

내속엔 헛된바람들로 당신에 편할곳 없네

僕の中には古い望みで あなたの落ち着くところがない

My own tired hopes leave no room
for you to find comfort

내속엔 내가 어쩔수 없는 어둠


Inside me there’s darkness
beyond my control

당신에 쉴자리를 뺏고


I robbed you of your resting place

내속엔 내가 이길수 없는 슬픔


Inside me is sadness
I cannot overpower

무성한 가시나무숲 같네


Like a forest thick with thorn trees

바람만 불면 그 메마른 가지


When the wind blows
the barren branches

서로 부대끼며 울어대고


rustle against each other,
crying in agony

쉴곳을 찾아 지쳐날아온


Young birds in desperate flight
for a resting place,

어린 새들도 가시에 찔려 날아가고


fly away, pricked by the thorns

바람만 불면 외롭고 또 괴로워


When the wind blows,
loneliness stings me

슬픈노래를 부르던 날이 많았는대


Though there were so many days
when I sang of sadness,

내속엔 내가 너무도 많아서 당신에 쉴곳 없네

僕の中には僕があまりにも多くて あなたの休むところがない

There’s so much of me inside me,
there’s no place for you to rest

Interview by Chris McGee re ANPO

Chris McGee, a Toronto-based Japanese film expert and blogger extraordinare, interviewed me about how I made the film, ANPO. Chris has been unflagging in his support of my film, naming it the best Japanese film of 2010. Thank you so much for your lovely interview, Chris. It was a pleasure. Linda

ANPO to screen at MoMA Doc Fortnight

ANPO honored to be included in Documentary Fortnight lineup at MoMA in NYC on Friday, February 25th, @ 7pm. Only members can reserve seats but please join and purchase tickets at the desk on Friday, 2/25.

ANPO on best unreleased 2010 film list

Nice to find ANPO on a list of the best films of 2010 unreleased in North America. Nice to be on the list with Ken Loach’s new film. ANPO is not likely to make it to a commercial theater near you, but is available for educational distribution. It will be screening at MoMA in NY on Feb 25th, at Cornell on March 4th, at Hong Kong Film Festival on March 24 and 27th, at Harvard Film Archives on April 11th and Columbia University later in April. Please contact me if you want to buy the DVD for your university or want to host a screening. Linda Hoaglund

Fascinating survey re Futenma and US bases out of Japan

A fascinating survey reveals Japanese public opinion re US bases in Japan.

ANPO perspective echoed in ex-M.P. revisit of Koza riots

A fascinating article about an American ex-M.P. compelled to return to the site of the Koza riots which he patrolled as a 21 year old.

Huffington Post weighs in on Futenma debacle

A smart piece by Huffington Post on Futenma dilemma. For more information on this situation, please visit

ANPO in feature story in Art in America

The January 2011 issue of Art in America has a cover story on ANPO: Art X War, including 8 pages of art reproductions: “Shot in lavish high-def digital, with the camera poring over painted detail and photographic emulsion, occasionally diving into storerooms to uncover forgotten masterpieces, ANPO offers as many opportunities for esthetic appreciation and art-historical discovery as it does for insight into social and political history.” from Art in America