An Interview with Adachi Masao (Director)
“Stand by!” An Unchanging Message
Q: Were you able to look back on the conditions in 1971, when you filmed in Palestine?
AM: At the time, Palestinians themselves had not prepared a base for so-called information advertisement efforts, for a global campaign. News crews came from Europe and elsewhere, but they kept issuing directions for the shoot. They told me, “Why don’t you film this?” but there was no way I was just going to do that. So, at first, I hardly filmed anything, but lived in a refugee camp, and went around the training grounds and the front line to experience them myself. In the midst of all that, I was able to conduct research where it seemed I could see through everything.
The year before, Black September (Jordanian Civil War) had happened, and I felt that everyone was demoralized. Even so, even the women and children were saying, “We’ve gone on living all this time without holding onto anything. That’s why we will carry on until we return to our homeland.” I thought, “That’s it.” That’s where their justice is, and that’s how they recover after an atrocity. I came to see that state of being as truth.
Q: A lot of the films being screened here for “Militant Cinema” were produced around the same time. What do you make of this?
AM: Ever since I re-visited the site in 1974, I’ve been involved with building an information advertisement / film branch for the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), or the left wing group within the PLO the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Among the films curated here, there are a few that I saw at that time. It was a time when different groups and bodies of influence were working on information advertisement, under the expectations that they wouldn’t lose at that rate. Info ad efforts hold an important position until 1982 (when Israel invaded Lebanon). It accumulates, and ever since then, each body of influence has a television station. The majority of films being screened here were made with the view that, although we don’t know where we can report them, for the time being, in an extremely primitive way, we have to report our present conditions and the state of fighting therein. That’s why I think they capture the times very well.
Q: After that, did the technique of information advertisement shift towards news journalism?
AM: I’ve called The Red Army / PFLP: Declaration of World War a news film, a journalistic film from the very start. The subject was the everyday seen from the eyes of a Palestinian guerilla fighter. With this film, I am repeatedly calling for people to “Stand by!” To re-examine the basis for revolution once more from within our everyday lives, and ask how we can proactively make preparations. When I held the “Movement for Film Screening Squads” (when I toured the country by bus), the subject was also about how, in the midst of the debates at each location, people stand by together, build up strength, and connect through networks.
Q: We’re now in an age where anyone can circulate information themselves. What’s your take on this transformation?
AM: I think it will be good if that steadily continues. However, by taking media in, you expose yourself to manipulation. In order to withstand that, it is important that we do everything ourselves. Also, militant fighting can be effective, but that is not the only way. Palestine has once again been put into the most difficult situation in history. In order to resolve this, methods that make the best use of cameras, the Internet, and social networking services are sought after. With the current culture of consumption, BDS (the movement to boycott Israel) is proving stronger than militant activities. In other words, “Stand by!” means to regroup. The film being screened here is both a record of the fight to liberate Palestine, which we must not forget, and an archive of an “old” method of fighting. Now, how should we frame these issues, and how do we go on? I think it is important that these questions raised around issues be sent out from Yamagata.
(Compiled by Numazawa Zenichiro)
Interviewers: Numazawa Zenichiro, Sakurai Hidenori / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Sakurai Hidenori / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2017-10-01 in Tokyo