Wai-chan is one of the last remaining fishermen in Ushimado, a small village in Seto Inland Sea, Japan. At the age of 86, he still fishes alone on a small boat to make a living, dreaming about his retirement. Kumi-san is an 84 year old villager who wanders around the shore everyday. She believes a social welfare facility “stole” her disabled son to receive subsidy from the government. A “late - stage elderly” Koso-san runs a small seafood store left by her deceased husband. She sells fish to local villagers and provides leftovers to stray cats. Foresaken by the modernization of post-war Japan, the town Ushimado's rich, ancient culture and tight-knit community are on on the verge of disappearing.
- Waichiro Murata
- Kumiko Komiyama
- Kazuhiro Soda
- Kazuhiro Soda
Ushim ado is the hometown of my wife, Kiyoko Kashiwagi’s mother. For this reason, we often visited this town. We met some local fishermen and ended up filming OYSTER FACTORY (OBSERVATIONAL FILM #6, 2015) in November 2013. For the past 10 years, I’ve been making documentaries, using “observation” as my key word. I spontaneously roll my camera, watching and listening closely to the reality in front of me, banning myself from doing research or prescribing themes or writing a script before shooting. I impose certain rules ('The Ten Commandments') on myself to avoid preconceptions and to discover something beyond my expectation. The INLAND SEA project also emerged without planning. While we were walking around Ushimado to shoot some landscape shots for OYSTER FACTORY, we coincidentally met Wai-chan, the fisherman working on the shore. He reminded me of the story “The Old Man and the Sea,” so I started filming him, then Kumi came into the frame. Then we met Koso of the fish market, Kubota and their stray cats, and Muragimi at the cemetery. Completing a cycle in Ushimado’s ecological, economic, and social chain, we found ourselves accumulating enough footage for a whole “other film” about the town. The entry point into a film is usually hidden in the most unexpected of places in our daily life.
- LABORATORY X
Inland Sea is, however, primarily a work of simple and unapologetic humanism, happily in love with people.
I have ten commandments, many people misinterpret it thinking that I am not a free filmmaker. I self-impose my rules and I'm kind of restricted, but actually, these restrictions are there to set me free.
Kazuhiro Soda practices an observational method of documentary filmmaking based on his own "Ten Commandments" which prohibits him from doing pre-shoot research or writing a synopsis before filming. He imposes these rules on himself in order to minimize preconceptions and to be able to make unexpected discoveries while filming and editing. His debut feature documentary CAMPAIGN (2007, OBSERVATIONAL FILM #1) was invited to many prestigious festivals such as Berlinale and was aired in nearly 200 countries and territories around the world. It won the Peabody Award in the U.S. MENTAL (2008, OBSERVATIONAL FILM #2) won numerous awards including the Best Documentary Award at the Busan International Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival. PEACE (2010, OBSERVATIONAL FILM EXTRA), the opening film of DMZ Documentary Festival, won the Best Documentary Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Tokyo Filmex. THEATRE 1 and THEATRE 2 (2012, OBSERVATIONAL FILM #3 and #4) won the Young Juries Prize at the Festival des 3 Continents. CAMPAIGN 2 (2013, OBSERVATIONAL FILM #5) has been invited to such festivals as Cinema du Reel, Hong Kong International Film Festival, and MoMA Documentary Fortnight. OYSTER FACTORY (2015, OBSERVATIONAL FILM #6) premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival and won the audience award at the Kinotayo Film Festival. His film ZERO was selected at the Berlinale Forum 2020.