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CJS Noon Lecture Series | The Power of Observation: How and Why I Make "Observational" Documentaries

Kazuhiro Soda, Toyota Professor in Residence
Thursday, February 9, 2017
12:10-1:30 PM
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building Map
Kazuhiro Soda has made seven feature length documentaries in the same method and style. He calls them "observational films" not only because they are inspired by the tradition of observational cinema, but also because he believes in the power of observation. When he says "observation" in this context, he means two things. Firstly, as a filmmaker he closely looks at the reality in front of him and makes films according to his observations and discoveries, not based on the assumptions and preconceptions he had before he shot the film. Secondly, he encourages the viewers to observe the film actively with their own eyes and minds. In order to realize these two aspects, he came up with "Ten Commandments" for him to follow. They are:

1 No research.
2 No meetings with subjects.
3 No scripts.
4 Roll the camera yourself.
5 Shoot as long as possible.
6 Cover small areas deeply.
7 Do not set up a theme or goal before editing.
8 No narration, title, or music.
9 Use long takes.
10 Pay for the production yourself.

In this lecture, Soda will explain how and why he takes this particular approach to documentary filmmaking.

Kazuhiro Soda is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and a Toyota Visiting Professor at the Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan. His films have been screened at such events as Berlin International Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, among others, winning numerous awards. His filmography includes "Campaign" (2007), "Mental" (2008), "Peace" (2010), "Theatre 1" (2012), "Theatre 2" (2012), "Campaign 2" (2013), and "Oyster Factory" (2015). He is also the author of seven books published in Japan. Collaborating with UM professors and students, he is currently making a feature documentary about the Michigan Stadium "The Big House (working title)."
Building: School of Social Work Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Art, Film, Japanese Studies
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Japanese Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures