Blurred boundaries: Ethnofiction and its impact on postwar Japanese cinema

Coates, Jennifer (2019) Blurred boundaries: Ethnofiction and its impact on postwar Japanese cinema. Arts, 8 (1). ISSN 2076-0752

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This article explores the use of ethnofiction, a technique emerging from the field of visual anthropology, which blends documentary and fiction filmmaking for ethnographic purposes. From Imamura Sh¯ohei’s A Man Vanishes (Ningen j¯ohatsu, 1967) to Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Cafe Lumieré (K¯ohi jik¯o, 2003), Japanese cinema, including Japan-set and Japan-associated cinema, has employed ethnofiction filmmaking techniques to alternately exploit and circumvent the structural barriers to filmmaking found in everyday life. Yet the dominant understanding in Japanese visual ethnography positions ethnofiction as an imported genre, reaching Japan through Jean Rouch and French cinema-verité. Blending visual analysis of Imamura and Hou’s ethnofiction films with an auto-ethnographic account of my own experience of four years of visual anthropology in Kansai, I interrogate the organizational barriers constructed around geographical perception and genre definition to argue for ethnofiction as a filmmaking technique that simultaneously emerged in French cinema-verité and Japanese feature filmmaking of the 1960s. Blurring the boundaries between Japanese, French, and East Asian co-production films, and between documentary and fiction genres, allows us to understand ethnofiction as a truly global innovation, with certain regional specificities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethnofiction,japan,documentary,non-fiction,dramatization
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Centres > Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2019 14:30
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2023 09:43
DOI: 10.3390/arts8010020

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