Thirty Years of Sisterhood

On the US tour of a Japanese documentary film by Yamagami Chieko and Seyama Noriko, "Thirty Years of Sisterhood: Women of the 1970s Women's Liberation Movement in Japan" in Feb. 2006.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Message from Yamagami Chieko, filmmaker of 30 Years of Sisterhood

Although I have made only a small number of films, I think I have always been making documentaries for myself.

For me, making documentary films can be a means of asking what I am looking for.

I have always gained strength from the women in the women’s liberation movement. However, the libbers are considered in our society to be scary women. Of course, that is only the image of them created by the mass media.

I did not want women’s herstory to be recorded with such a mistaken image. I wanted to record the women’s liberation movement as I know it, as they really are. That was the starting point of the film 30 years of Sisterhood, a film about twelve libbers.

As the terminology changed from "women's liberation" to "feminism" and feminism spread widely, current society may have come to look free and equal on the surface. However, in the present day, oppression and discrimination against women, as well as against the weak, is becoming more convoluted. Under such circumstances, I sometime can't figure out exactly what I really want and what I am looking for.

By looking back on the herstories of twelve women’s libbers, I wanted to reconsider the roots of living in a way that was true to myself . In this confusing era, I wanted to gain the strength to survive as myself in my own unique way.

By seeing this film, I would like you to gain strength from these 12 women who have tried for the past 30 years to live in a way true to themselves and their own senses. I am pleased if this movie becomes a catalyst for discussing together what we, as women, really want.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

University of Minnesota Event - Feb 23 (Thu)

Screening and Panel Discussion

Date: Feb 23 (Thu)
Time: 4pm
Location: Room 125, Nolte Center for Continuing Education, Minneapolis Campus

Chieko Yamagami (filmmaker)
Noriko Seyama (filmmaker)
Soko Miki (Professor of English/Women's Studies, Kyoto Seika University)
Satoko Urara (filmmaker)
Chaired by Mark Anderson (Assistant Professsor of Japanese Literature, University of Minnesota)

Introduction by Tomomi Yamaguchi (post-doctoral scholar, University of Chicago)

This event is sponsored by Institute for Advanced Study.

Yale University Event - Feb 15 (Wed)

Feb 15 (Wed) Special Screening and Panel Discussion

Time: 4:30pm
Location: Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Avenue.


Yamagami Chieko (Film Director)
Seyama Noriko (Film Director)
Akiyama Yoko (Professor of Chinese Studies, Surugadai University)
Doi Yumi (Writer)
Miki Soko ( Professor of English and Women's Studies, Kyoto Seika University)
Urara Satoko (Film Director)
Karen Nakamura (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University)
Christopher Gerteis (Post-Doctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies, Yale University)
Yamaguchi Tomomi (Post-Doctoral Scholar,Center for East Asian Studies, University of Chicago)
Chaired by: William Kelly (Professor of Anthropology, Yale University)

This event is sponsored by Council on East Asian Studies.

Friday, December 09, 2005

University of Chicago event - Feb 10

US Premiere Screening and Panel Discussion of "Thirty Years of Sisterhood"!!

Date: Feb 10 (Fri)
Time: 4pm-7pm
Place: Film Studies Center Auditorium (Cobb Hall, Third Floor)

Panelists: (Japanese names are written in the order of last name-first name)
Yamagami Chieko (director)
Seyama Noriko (director)
Akiyama Yoko (Professor of Chinese Studies and Women's Studies, Surugadai University)
Doi Yumi (writer)
Miki Soko (Professor of English and Women's Studies, Kyoto Seika University)
Norma Field (Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago)

Greetings by Prof. Susan Burns (History and EALC)
Introduction by Tomomi Yamaguchi (Post-doctoral Scholar)
Interpretation by Mika Endo (Graduate Student)
Filming by Urara Satoko (filmmaker) and Francisco Arechiga-Ormsbee (Undergraduate Student)

This event is sponsored by:
Japan Committee, Center for East Asian Studies
Center for Gender Studies
Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop
Human Rights Program

Related events at the University of Chicago

Center for Gender Studies, Brown Bag lecture series
Screening and Discussion of "Dear Tari" with the director, Yamagami Chieko
Date: Feb 10
Time: 12:15-1:30pm
Place: Center for Gender Studies

Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop
Professor Akiyama Yoko (Chinese Literature and Women's Studies, Surugadai University)
Date: Feb 10
Time: 2:00-3:30pm
Place: TBA

Monday, December 05, 2005

Film Review by Livia Monnet (Professor, University of Montreal)

30 Years of Sisterhood-Women in the 1970s Women’s Liberation Movement in Japan (Sanjunen no Sisterhood: Senkyuhyaku nanaju nendai woman ribu no onna tachi, 2004) is a powerful documentary focusing on little known aspects of the history, unfolding, and multiple legacies of Japan's Women's Liberation Movement, or Woman's Lib (Uman ribu/Ribu) .

Adopting a different approach from Nanako Kurihara's Looking for Fumiko (1993) the only film engaging with the Japanese Women's Liberation Movement that has so far been shown, and received coverage internationally ? Thirty Years of Sisterhood records the testimonies and reminiscences of 12 participants at an annual gathering for former Woman's Lib activists at a hot spring resort in Shizuoka prefecture.

The Libbers' conversations are interspersed with rare archival footage of actions launched by the Movement -- mass demonstrations, consciousness-raising musicals and plays, the publication and distribution of fliers, manifestoes, and magazines -- to bring about significant changes in Japanese women's self-perception, thinking, and behavior, as well as in 1960s-1970s Japan's patriarchal, conservative society as a whole.

What emerges from the film's vivid montage of objective retrospective assessment, subjective memories, and highlighting of radical political actions is a fascinating, layered portrayal of a group of committed feminists and women activists, who, three decades after the momentum of Woman's Lib subsided, have lost neither their utopian belief in the power of women's community, creativity, and imagination, nor their will to continue the fight initiated in the 1970s.

Another notable achievement of the film is its highlighting of the cultural specificity of Japan's Women's Liberation Movement; as well as its depiction of the latter as a heterogeneous network of groups, organizations, and individuals motivated by common goals, but whose political orientation, ideological commitments, statements, and actions could be conflicting, puzzling, or paradoxical.

The viewer is offered an inspiring, intimate perspective on Women's Liberation Movement's major role in changing women's status, as well as in paying the way for women's prominent contributions to the culture, arts, and society of contemporary Japan.