A film by Can Tamura (John Wells)
DCI 2K, color, 24 min
In Okinami, a small, seaside settlement on the Noto Peninsula, Japan, a deity is said to have drifted for an eternity in the sea before finally coming ashore there. Each year, the people of Okinami perform a ritual for this deity with large, heavy lantern floats to ensure bountiful catches of fish and safety of fishers at sea. The performance of this ritual depends on having approximately 200 people who are able to carry these heavy lantern floats for the entire two-day event. Faced with the challenges of an aging and declining population, Okinami has come to depend on the help of outsiders for this physically demanding task, such as university students who volunteer to help perform the ritual. This film explores the phenomenon of how social memory in Okinami is maintained and how a community is redefined through the combined and strenuous efforts of bodies – locals and outsiders – in ritual performance.
About the director:
Can Tamura (John Wells) is filmmaker, artist, and audiovisual anthropologist. He earned his BA in film at Antioch College (USA) and MA in Visual Anthropology, Media and Documentary Practices at the University of Münster (Germany). Working primarily in Japan, Turkey, and Mongolia, he makes experimental documentary films that explore the intersection between ethnographic film and art.
- Okinami Shukaisho, Anamizu, Japan, August 4, 2019.
- Cinema & Kurbelkiste Münster, Münster, Germany, January 29, 2020.
- Distributed Multimodalities: Ethnographic Experiments in Memory and Performance, panel of Distribute 2020: A Biennial Conference of the SCA and SVA, May 7 to 9, 2020.
- Anthro-Film Laboratory, Japan, June 20, 2020.
- 16th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, July 22, 2020.
- (Forthcoming) Ethnographic Film Festival, University of Bremen Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research, Bremen, Germany, December 1 to 3, 2020 (to be held online).
- (Forthcoming) 16th International Conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS), Ghent, Germany, August 25 to 28, 2021.