08 19 Oct '24
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Sumiko Haneda

Usuzumi no sakura (The Cherry Tree with Gray Blossoms)

Edition 2021
42' - 1977 - Dialogue: Japanese
Director: Sumiko Haneda
Sumiko Haneda is one of the most prominent documentary filmmakers from Japan and one of the few women working in non-fiction cinema there in the postwar period.

Sumiko Haneda is one of the most prominent documentary filmmakers from Japan and one of the few women working in non-fiction cinema there in the postwar period. Born in 1926, in Dalian, China (then Manchuria), in 1949 Haneda entered Iwanami Productions, a company producing educational and promotional films, where she would make films about the arts, education, and nature. In 1976 she directed her first independent film, The Cherry Tree with Gray Blossoms, a personal project she had worked on for many years. She continued to direct over 80 short and long films.

Introduced by Ricardo Matos Cabo

With thanks to Kanatasha, Inc. and Haneda Sumiko

With the support of the Japan Foundation

In collaboration with Open City Docs London

This film occupies a special place in my life of making films. Usuzumi no sakura is the proper name of a cherry tree in a mountain village called Neomura in Gifu Prefecture. This tree is not just any tree. They say it is over 1,200 years old - the oldest tree in Japan. I encountered it by chance in the spring of 1969. It seemed like there was a bewitching atmosphere enveloping the tree’s surroundings. The thought that “With this tree, and this tree only, I could make a movie,” suddenly stole inside my head. Two years later, selecting my younger sister as a partner, I thought I would try using her poems similar to a small piece of music that sang praise of the cherry tree. However, she soon fell sick - it was cancer - and died exactly one year later. The initial plan, in which I had thought it would be a short, musical kind of work, soon disappeared after her death and I became strongly drawn to the bewitching atmosphere of the cherry tree. While conversing with the tree, I tried to freeze its appearance in each of the four seasons. As I made this film, I thought that “it’s alright if no one sees it. I’ll just make what I want as I please.” For someone like me who had spent years making films as products for Iwanami Productions, this became an act of searching for myself. (Sumiko Haneda, edited)

Image gallery

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Credits

Director

Sumiko Haneda

More information

Dialogue

Japanese

Countries of production

Japan

Year

1977

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