Since a minimum of the nineteen-fifties, when tv possession started spreading all of a sudden around the advanced international, film theaters were laboring beneath one more or less existential danger or every other. But in spite of their obvious vulnerability to a lot of disruptive trends — house video, streaming, COVID-19 — many, if no longer maximum, of them have discovered tactics to soldier on. In some instances this owes to the determination of small teams of supporters, and even to the efforts of people like Shuji Tamura, who operates the century-old Motomiya Film Theater in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture single-handedly.
You’ll be able to see Tamura in motion in My Theater, the five-minute documentary brief above. “The Jap director Kazuya Ashizawa’s fascinating observational portrait captures Tamura as he displays outdated films for an target audience of scholars and cinephiles, and provides behind-the-scenes excursions of the cinema,” says Aeon. The ones excursions come with an up-close have a look at the completely analog movie projector of whose operation Tamura, 81 years outdated on the time of filming, has retained all of the expertise. Despite the fact that he formally closed the theater within the nineteen-sixties, it kind of feels he assists in keeping his threading abilities sharp by way of conserving screenings for excursion teams old and young.
Despite the fact that lighthearted, a portrait like this is able to hardly ever keep away from an elegiac undertone. Already affected by the depopulation that has stricken many areas of Japan, Fukushima was once additionally badly stricken by way of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and their related nuclear crisis. In 2020, the 12 months after Ashizawa shot My Theater, a hurricane “led to the Abukumagawa river and its tributaries to flood,” because the Asahi Shimbun‘s Shoko Rikimaru writes. “The Motomiya town middle was once inundated, seven other folks died, and greater than 2,000 properties and structures have been broken.” Each Tamura’s theater and his house have been flooded, and “part of the 400 movie cans on cabinets at the first flooring of his area have been sopping wet in muddy water.”
In reaction, lend a hand got here from close to and a long way. “A producer in Kanagawa Prefecture despatched 10 bins of movie cans to the theater, whilst a film theater in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, delivered a film-editing device. About 30 other folks affiliated with the movie trade in Tokyo confirmed up on the theater to lend a hand blank and dry the movie. The hassle ended in the recovery of about 100 motion pictures.” Alas, Tamura’s deliberate re-opening match came about to coincide with the unfold of the coronavirus throughout Japan, leading to its indefinite postponement. However now that Japan has re-opened for global tourism, most likely the Motomiya Film Theater can turn out to be a vacation spot for no longer simply home guests however overseas ones as neatly. Having been charmed by way of My Theater, who wouldn’t wish to make the commute?
by means of Aeon
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on towns, language, and tradition. His initiatives come with the Substack publication Books on Towns, the ebook The Stateless Town: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Town in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.