Retrospective of Filmmaker: TAKAMINE Go

Retrospective of Filmmaker: TAKAMINE Go

TAKAMINE Go was born in 1948 in Kabira Village on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, and grew up in Naha until he finished high school. In 1969, when Okinawa was still officially under U.S. military control, he went to study art on a national scholarship for exchange students at the Kyoto University of Education, where he began to make 8mm movies. Three years later in 1972, the U.S. government handed over Okinawa to Japanese administration.

The question of Okinawa's fate is always encapsulated in TAKAMINE Go's films. In the opening scene of Hengyoro (2016), for example, he uses the lyrics of a renowned folk song 'The Passage of Time' (1998) to convey Okinawa’s complex history with China, Japan, the United States, and then Japan once again: 'This Okinawa belongs to nobody. This Okinawa, will it find its place one day? ...The official currency has changed. We can no longer walk to Naha. The distinct outfits for the elders and the children are lost. Everyone wears the same clothes, as if they are of the same age. Even the women’s hairstyles have changed ... '

The reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972 remains the eternal theme of TAKAMINE's films. His style of filmmaking is inspired by the avant-garde icon Jonas MEKAS, who liberated TAKAMINE from conventional ideas of how and what a film should be. In Okinawan Dream Show (1974), one of TAKAMINE's earliest films, he travelled around Okinawa on a motorcycle with his 8mm camera to capture the everyday landscape of his homeland, before and after the Reversion. Since then, TAKAMINE has created a series of wildly imaginative films with a unique aesthetics and a mélange of local elements, such as the Okinawan language, music, and folklore. The stories of his films are nostalgic and interconnected, always set in a time when Okinawa was teetering on the brink of a decision: to claim independence, or to reunite with Japan.

For decades, TAKAMINE works with the same group of Okinawan actors, who have grown up and aged in his films. The actors might have played different roles, but they seem to exist perpetually in the crucial years of Okinawa's fate. Their act of ‘living’ thus becomes a testimony to the historical traumas and cultural influences that impact on the Okinawan people’s collective state of mind.

This retrospective selects 6 important films from TAKAMINE Go's oeuvre. Viewed in their entirety, his films almost seem to form a continuous series, relentlessly pursuing a lost homeland and an Okinawan identity that might only be found in his fantastical cinematic world.

 

*Special thanks to HAMA Haruka and HSU Fang-tze for their kind assistance.

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