Kazuhiro Soda’s documentary Oyster Factory was shown at Montreal’s Festival du nouveau cinéma in 2015. If you missed it then you have another chance to see it now, at the documentary festival RIDM. Kazuhiro Soda who is here for a retrospective of his films will introduce Oyster Factory and answer questions abut it after the screening.
I did not see Oyster Factory at FNC, so I will quote some reviews below. I DID see Soda’s Campaign 1 and Campaign 2 at RIDM, so I can attest to his filmmaking and editing skills and his ability to get along with most people. (There WERE a few cranky people in the Campaign films.) The Campaign films were long but not boring; I did not see anyone leave the cinema. So don’t be frightened by Oyster Factory’s 145 minute running time.
Now, here are those review excerpts: Clarence Tsui of the Hollywood Reporter wrote:
“Oyster Factory. . .bears testament to the filmmaker’s skills in wringing out big issues from the “little people.” Edited out of 90 hours of footage shot over three weeks in one seaside community in southwestern Japan, the film slowly and successfully teases out the country’s clammed-up anxiety about a new, globalized economy through the struggle of workers in mom-and-pop shellfish process businesses.
“Engaging as always with his settings and subjects, Soda demonstrates an instinct in capturing fears and doubts when they come to the fore, while also carefully putting these emotional implosions in context. . .
“Combining a pervasive sense of grit and offering odd moments of grace – the town is part of what is dubbed “Japan’s Aegean Sea” after all – Oyster Factory slowly cracks its settings of provincial serenity open and leaves the viewer to reflect on the future.”
On PardoLive, a section of the Locarno Film Festival’s web site, Aurélie Godet wrote: “Who would have thought that fishing and shucking oysters could be so engaging to a film audience? It is, though. And for many reasons beyond the mollusk itself. Sôda’s new observational documentary depicts the world of small oyster factories in Japan’s southern province of Okayama. . .
“Viewers familiar with Sôda’s previous documentaries (Mental, the Campaign and Theatre diptychs) will recognize the filmmaker’s talent for recording people’s unconscious behaviors and welcoming unpredictability. An open attitude rewarded again by a surge of strange or comical events.
“Films may not change the world, but Kazuhiro Sôda’s films can certainly show us how to look and truly see our changing world.”
In the Japan Times, Mark Schilling explained that the film “about oyster harvesting in the port of Ushimado on the picturesque Seto Inland Sea was shot in only three weeks, minus the usual sort of advance work to smooth the way. This is not laziness but rather Soda’s standard way of staying fresher to new situations than filmmakers who arrive on location with all their expert interviews neatly scheduled.”
Schilling further stated: “As a film, Oyster Factory may not be slick, but it is warm, insightful and human.”
Director: Kazuhiro Soda
Producer: Kiyoko Kashiwagi
Cinematographer: Kazuhiro Soda
Editor: Kazuhiro Soda
International Sales: Laboratory X
In Japanese, with English subtitles
145 minutes long
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 4:30 p.m.
Cinéma du Parc – Salle 3
3575 Park Ave, Montreal, QC
Visit the RIDM web site for more information about the documentary festival.