Minamata: The Victims and Their World
Sunday, Nov 27 at 1:00 pm
Location la: Bartos Screening Room
Dir. Noriaki Tsuchimoto. 1971, 147 mins. 16mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. In 1932, fertilizer manufacturer Chisso began dumping mercury-heavy wastewater into the surrounding sea, and continued to do so for decades, contaminating the water and eventually killing close to a thousand people while leaving thousands more permanently brain-damaged. It’s the worst industrial disaster in Japan’s history, and its painful reverberations continue to this day. Minamata: The Victims and Their World is the result of an immersive and devoted production process that involved months of patiently speaking with ailing victims and their families and grew to encompass protests and physical altercations between Minamatans and Chisso representatives. A monumental achievement in documentary history and a triumph of independent film distribution (Tsuchimoto personally presented the film across Japan and the world, including on a hundred-plus day tour of Canada, whose indigenous communities were also found to be stricken with Minamata disease), Minamata brought global awareness to the scope and perils of the disease and led to hundreds of diagnoses. Speaking to the singular power of the film, Shoah director Claude Lanzmann declared that “no metteur en scène of fiction will ever achieve the force and imaginative inventiveness, the empathy displayed by Tsuchimoto.”
Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.