In the Japanese town of Ushimado, the shortage of labor is a serious problem due to its population’s rapid decline. Traditionally, oyster shucking has been a job for local men and women, but for a few years now, some of the factories have had to use foreigners in order to keep functioning. Hirano oyster factory has never employed any outsiders but finally decides to bring in two workers from China. Will all the employees get along?
- Shinsuke Hirano
- Koichi Watanabe
- Yukiko Watanabe
- Kazuhiro Sôda
- Kazuhiro Sôda
- Kazuhiro Sôda
I made OYSTER FACTORY in the same observational method and style as my previous films. I conducted no research, held no meetings with my subjects, nor did I write a synopsis before the shoot, in order to avoid preconceptions and pre-established harmony. In the editing too, I did not set a goal or theme before I edited the film. Instead, I tried to make new discoveries in the course of filming and editing. In this film, I did not depict any violence, miseries, or social injustices that are often the favorite subjects of documentaries. You could find a trace of the disaster that shook the whole world, but the disaster itself doesn’t happen in this film. What you see are the ordinary lives of loveable fishermen and workers.
Nevertheless, I believe OYSTER FACTORY is a film about change. When society and the times change in a fundamental way, I believe these changes happen gradually in our everyday lives rather than through a one sudden, big incident. The speed of these changes is so slow that we often overlook them. But if you let your mind settle into a serenity, sometimes you can witness the moment where subtle but essential changes occur, making distinct sounds. I have a feeling that I was able to witness such a moment and depict it in this film.
The changes and challenges experienced by the characters in this film, such as the decline of the primary industry and issues of coexistence, are resonant with the whole of Japanese society and many other developed countries in the 21st century. I believe what I witnessed at the oyster factories can be seen as a miniature of the larger world. I hope the film can serve as a window for viewers to think about the important issues we all are probably going to deal with at least for the next several decades.
- LABORATORY X, INC.
'Oyster Factory' bears testament to the filmmaker's skills in wringing out big issues... and offers pearls of wisdom about small-town ennui in the 21st century.
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 Berlin IFF and was aired in nearly 200 countries and territories around the world. It won the Peabody Award in the U.S.