Ogawa Shinzuke’s form of partisan filmmaking has influenced subsequent generations of documentary filmmakers in Japan, East Asia and beyond. Begun in the late 1980s, Red Persimmons is the culmination of Ogawa’s final project, deftly completed by his protegé, Chinese ‘fifth generation’ filmmaker Peng Xiaolin—a graduate of the Beijing Film Academy. The original footage was shot over a decade, tracking changes in the village life of Kaminoyama, a place renowned for producing dried persimmons. In 2001, Peng returned to the village to complete the story. Despite the picturesque scenery and rustic subject, the film is not a nostalgic depiction of rural life. Instead, Ogawa and Peng focus on the human agents that negotiate, and often drive the modernisation of their rural community and its ways. Tracing lives that reach across decades of war and intense economic development, the film remains stubbornly focused on the persistence of persimmon cultivation, which continues to inform the identity of this place and its people.
This film is part of the Season Three Asia and the Pacific Screens: Survival Politics, sponsored by the Australian Centre on China in the World.
Image by ELYC on Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.