i-Documentary of the Journalist
t.l. i-Documentario sulla giornalista
Japan, 2019, 113’, Japanese
Directed by: Mori Tatsuya
Photography (color): Komatsubara Shigeyuki, Mori Tatsuya
Editing: Suzuo Keita
Music: Martin Johnson (OAU/Johnson’s Motorcar)
Producer: Kawamura Mitsunori
Cast: Mochizuki Isoko
Date of First Release in Territory: November 19th, 2019
Premiere status: Italian Premiere
One of the most revered, as well as controversial, documentarians working in Japan today, Mori Tatsuya has fixed his camera on the repressed state of Japanese media and press freedom by following journalist Mochizuki Isoko, a tough-as-nails reporter who has riled up Japan’s conservative government as she continuously fights to report on facts that politicians don’t want revealed.
With his camcorder and hangdog expression, director Mori trails Mochizuki through the first half of 2019 as she chases some of the stories that have dogged the government in recent years, from the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, a heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, which has ties to Prime Minister Abe and his wife, including mandatory nationalist curriculum and suicide, straight out of a clandestine plot from The House of Cards.
Mochizuki is resilient in her pursuit as a journalist with her investigations, as she becomes a fixture of the twice-daily press conferences given by Abe’s blandly impassive spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yuga Yoshihide. Much to his chagrin, Mochizuki’s persistent questioning during these sessions has become the stuff of legend, earning her an official rebuke. In most countries, that would be seen as a badge of honor, but in Japan’s timid media-sphere, this is not proper protocol and has made her into a pariah in many circles.
i-Documentary of the Journalist is a timely, bracing snapshot of Japan’s conservative and nationalist culture, fomenting a complacency in Japanese media, especially when “fake news” and “partisan politics” are becoming fabricated and tiresome memes across the world. Like Mori’s previous work – A (1998) and A2 (2001), two documentaries about the everyday life of Aum Shinrikyo followers, and Fake (2016), an intimate expose on once revered deaf composer Mamoru Samuragochi, who went into hiding when it was revealed his compositions were ghost written and being disingenuous about his disability – his latest work follows another dynamic subject, but also against the backdrop of the culture around them. Per a glowing review from The Japan Times, “Mori isn’t just showing how the sausage gets made. He’s taking you into the slaughterhouse.”
Filmmaker and writer, Mori Tatsuya is renowned for his taboo-crossing documentaries about the Aum religious cult A (1998) and A2 (2001), which he shot in the aftermath of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks. A premiered at Berlinale’s Forum for New Cinema and shown around the world. A2 was also critically acclaimed and won awards at Yamagata Film Festival. The controversial 311 (2011), made in collaboration with three other filmmakers, was filmed during the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. In 2016, Fake exposed one of Japan’s leading composers, Mamoru Samuragochi. Winner of the Kodansha prize for non-fiction, Mori has published over 30 best-selling books on social issues and the media.
1998 – A
2001 – A2
2011 – 311
2016 – Fake
2019 – i-Documentary of the Journalist