Since a minimum of the nineteen-fifties, when tv possession started spreading quickly throughout the developed world, film theaters have been laboring beneath one sort of existential risk or one other. But regardless of their obvious vulnerability to a wide range of disruptive developments — dwelling video, streaming, COVID-19 — many, if not most, of them have discovered methods to soldier on. In some instances this owes to the dedication of small teams of supporters, and even to the efforts of people like Shuji Tamura, who operates the century-old Motomiya Film Theater in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture single-handedly.
You’ll be able to see Tamura in motion in My Theater, the five-minute documentary quick above. “The Japanese director Kazuya Ashizawa’s charming observational portrait captures Tamura as he screens outdated motion pictures for an viewers of scholars and cinephiles, and provides behind-the-scenes excursions of the cinema,” says Aeon. These excursions embody an up-close take a look at the totally analog movie projector of whose operation Tamura, 81 years outdated on the time of filming, has retained all of the know-how. Although he formally closed the theater within the nineteen-sixties, it appears he retains his threading expertise sharp by holding screenings for tour teams younger and outdated.
Although lighthearted, a portrait like this might hardly keep away from an elegiac undertone. Already affected by the depopulation that has many areas of Japan, Fukushima was additionally badly by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and their related nuclear catastrophe. In 2020, the yr after Ashizawa shot My Theater, a hurricane “triggered the Abukumagawa river and its tributaries to flood,” as the Asahi Shimbun‘s Shoko Rikimaru writes. “The Motomiya metropolis heart was inundated, seven folks died, and greater than 2,000 homes and buildings had been broken.” Each Tamura’s theater and his dwelling had been flooded, and “half of the 400 movie cans on cabinets on the primary ground of his home had been drenched in muddy water.”
In response, assist got here from close to and much. “A producer in Kanagawa Prefecture despatched 10 containers of movie cans to the theater, whereas a movie show in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, delivered a film-editing machine. About 30 folks affiliated with the movie business in Tokyo confirmed up on the theater to assist clear and dry the movie. The trouble led to the restoration of about 100 movies.” Alas, Tamura’s deliberate re-opening occasion occurred to coincide with the unfold of the coronavirus throughout Japan, leading to its indefinite postponement. However now that Japan has re-opened for worldwide tourism, maybe the Motomiya Film Theater can grow to be a vacation spot for not simply home guests however international ones as nicely. Having been charmed by My Theater, who wouldn’t wish to make the journey?
by way of Aeon
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by way of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The City in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.