THE ANABASIS OF MAY AND FUSAKO SHIGENOBU, MASAO ADACHI
AND 27 YEARS WITHOUT IMAGES

2011
66 minutes
Super 8 and HD video

excerpt :

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Who are May and Fusako Shigenobu? Fusako — leader of an extremist left-wing faction, the Japanese Red Army, involved in a number of terrorist operations — has been in hiding in Beirut for almost 30 years. May, her daughter, born in Lebanon, only discovered Japan at the age of twenty-seven, after her mother’s arrest in 2000. And Masao Adachi? A screenwriter and radical activist filmmaker, committed to armed struggle and the Palestinian cause, was also underground in Lebanon for several decades before being sent back to his native country. In his years as a film director, he had been one of the instigators of a ‘theory of landscape’ — fukeiron: through filming landscapes, Adachi sought to reveal the structures of oppression that underpin and perpetuate the political system. Anabasis? The name given, since Xenophon, to wandering, circuitous homeward journeys.

It is this complicated, dark, and always suspenseful story that Eric Baudelaire — an artist renowned for using photography as a means of questioning the staging of reality — chose to bring forth using the documentary format. Filmed on Super 8 mm, and in the manner of fukeiron, contemporary panoramas of Tokyo and Beirut are blended in with archival footage, TV clips and film excerpts as backdrop for May and Adachi’s voices and memories. They speak of everyday life, of being a little girl in hiding, of exile, politics and cinema, and their fascinating overlap. All of which adds up not so much to an enquiry as a fragmented anamnesis.

Jean-Pierre Rehm (from the FID Marseille catalog)

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Qui sont May et Fusako Shigenobu ? Fusako, leader d’un groupuscule d’extrême gauche, l’Armée Rouge Japonaise, impliquée dans de nombreuses opérations terroristes, s’est cachée pendant près de trente ans à Beyrouth. May, sa fille, née au Liban, n’a découvert le Japon qu’à 27 ans, après l’arrestation de sa mère en 2000. Masao Adachi ? Scénariste, cinéaste radical et activiste japonais engagé auprès des luttes armées et de la cause palestinienne, reclus lui aussi au Liban avant son renvoi dans son pays. Par ailleurs, initiateur d’une « théorie du paysage », le fukeiron : en filmant le paysage, celui-ci dévoilerait les structures d’oppression qui le fondent et qu’il perpétue. Anabase ? C’est le nom donné depuis Xénophon au retour, difficile voire erratique, vers chez soi.

C’est cette histoire complexe, sombre, toujours en suspens, qu’Éric Baudelaire, artiste réputé pour se servir de la photographie afin d’interroger la mise en scène de la réalité, a choisi d’évoquer en usant du format documentaire. Tournées en Super 8 mm, et comme dans la veine du fukeiron, des vues de Tokyo et de Beyrouth aujourd’hui se mêlent à quelques images d’archives, de télévision, à des extraits de films, pour dérouler le décor sur lequel les voix de May et d’Adachi vont faire remonter leur mémoire. Il y est question de vie quotidienne, d’être une petite fille dans la clandestinité, d’exil, de politique, de cinéma, et de leurs rapports fascinés. Pas une enquête, une anamnèse morcelée.

Jean-Pierre Rehm (catalogue du FID Marseille)

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Few artists have shifted from revolutionary imagination to revolutionary action like Masao Adachi, a collaborator with both the Japanese New Wave and the Japanese Red Army. A scriptwriter and colleague of Nagisa Oshima and Koji Wakamatsu, and a director of left-wing sex films, Adachi abandoned commercial filmmaking — and Japan — entirely in 1974 to join the extremist Japanese Red Army in exile in Beirut, where the group gained fame through deadly hijackings and bombings in support of a free Palestine and a worldwide Communist revolution. Also in Beirut was the group’s founder Fusako Shigenobu and her daughter May, who lived incognito for years. A film on exile, revolution, landscapes and memory, The Anabasis… brings forth the remarkable parallel stories of Adachi and May, one a filmmaker who gave up images, the other a young woman whose identity-less existence forbade keeping images of her own life. Fittingly returning the image to their lives, director Eric Baudelaire places Adachi and May’s revelatory voiceover reminiscences against warm, fragile Super-8mm footage of their split milieus, Tokyo and Beirut. Grounding their wide-ranging reflections in a solid yet complex reality, The Anabasis… provides a richly rewarding look at a fascinating, now nearly forgotten era (in politics and cinema), reminding us of film’s own ability to portray — and influence — its landscape.

Jason Sanders (from the San Francisco International Film Festival catalog)

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DISTRIBUTION

The Cinema Guild = Educational/Non-Theatrical DVD purchase