Formed in 1968 at Waseda University, the Nihon Documentarist Union (NDU) has been long forgotten as one of the most influential collectives of Japanese nonfiction filmmaking. Emerging from the student movements of the late 60s, the politically active NDU produced guerilla-style 16mm documentaries shot with asynchronous sound, and wrote extensively in leftist film journals, magazines, and other publications. The group posited an activist cinema of anonymity–rejecting auteurism and opting to exclude individual names in their credits. But while contemporaries like Ogawa Productions have since gone on to international recognition, the groundbreaking work of the NDU has remained in relative obscurity both in Japan and abroad.
In 1969, with negotiations for Okinawa’s return to Japan reaching their final stages, the NDU took to Okinawa, illegally entering the prefecture to document the lives of those marginalized by the region’s history of occupation, exposing the contradictions and systematic issues present within Okinawa’s relationship with Japan and America. Japan Society is proud to present two essential NDU productions shot during their time in Okinawa: Motoshinkakarannu and Asia is One, screening for the first time outside of Japan with new English subtitles.