Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I couldn't forget the bloodthirsty look in Okuzaki’s eyes when he asked me to film him killing his former company commander. Despite all the time I’d spent with him, I had never acknowledged the fact that Kenzo Okuzaki was a convicted criminal – even after hearing him repeat his resume of murder, violence, and pornography. I had secretly wished, someday, to film a crime documentary in real time. In fact, that’s exactly what I was filming. If my goal was to capture Kenzo Okuzaki, the criminal, this film wouldn’t work without the scene of Okuzaki’s crime. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Few filmmakers have found themselves in quite such a quandary as Hara Kazuo during the filming of the award-winning The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On. But it wasn't by chance that this seminal documentarian stumbled into an extreme example of the journalist's dilemma.Throughout the four decades of his career, Hara Kazuo has perused the bizarre and disturbing margins of Japanese society, certain that central truths are to be found in fringe phenomena. His method of documentation, which he calls "action documentary," pursues the shocking effect of the action film, following the gesture and staying in the moment – not commenting in voiceover from a safe distance.

Hara's innovations have transformed documentary filmmaking, and contributed directly to the current ascendance of the documentary, both within the industry and among audiences internationally. His best-known disciple is Michael Moore, who lists Hara as one of his favorite directors.

In CAMERA OBTRUSA: HARA KAZUO'S ACTION DOCUMENTARIES Kaya Press offers the first English-language book on Hara's life and method, by the master himself. Hara writes this memoir-cum-handbook in easy, conversational language, telling his own story of coming to the documentary form, using his camera to challenge society's expectations, and breaking down the boundary between subject and object.

Digging into the practical elements of his craft, the author describes each of his groundbreaking films in detail, and includes a special extended chapter on
The Emperor’s Naked Army featuring the complete text of production notes he wrote about the film and its subsequent notoriety.

CAMERA OBTRUSA will be launched with a May 2, 2009 screening of the
The Emperor's Naked Army at UC Berkeley. Hara Kazuo will appear in person. The launch will also feature an academic mini-conference with scholars from major universities in attendance.

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