Oyster Factory

Oyster Factory, a stunningly beautiful, immersive documentary portrait of the small village of Ushimaido (in Okayama prefecture, situated on “Japan’s Aegean Sea”), interrogates the process of community discovery and introspection in an age of globalized labor, an aging population, and dwindling natural resources. Soda, one of the documentary world’s most innovative and conceptually-attuned practitioners, began filming Ushimaido’s oyster farmers following a string of family visits to the community, becoming increasingly familiar with the workers themselves and their daily lives before he ever trained a camera in their direction. Ushimaido’s oyster trade since the great recession has seen decreases in both productivity and business, a population of young people seemingly uninterested in carrying on the work, and the arrival of temporary Chinese workers into the community has forced the established community members to face an entirely new set of issues, which Soda observes with characteristic empathy while still maintaining a fundamentally questioning attitude. “Soda has developed into one of the discipline’s most interesting, and freest, artists.”—Robert Koehler, Film Comment. “Some other documentary filmmakers equal Soda in keenness, intelligence, and wit, but few come off as so genuinely caring and kind, able to shift from observer to assuager with such beguiling grace.”—Max Nelson, Cinema Scope. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Kazuhiro Sôda’s official website

Appears in: Japanese Currents

Genres: Documentary