From a Distant Utopia to a Close Reality: Brazilian Themes in Japanese Film Since the Post-war Period

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2021)
Title: From a Distant Utopia to a Close Reality: Brazilian Themes in Japanese Film Since the Post-war Period
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Alexandre Nakahara, University of São Paulo, Brazil


This presentation intends to show an overview of eleven feature-length fiction Japanese films that have dealt with Brazilian themes since the post-war. It starts with Akira Kurosawa’s I Live In Fear (1955) and ends with Shōhei Shiozaki’s Goldfish Go Home (2012). The selection is remarkable due to the relationship set between both nation-states, which has been ongoing since the late nineteenth century. The Japanese diaspora to Brazil is an important migratory movement in the modern history of both countries. It began in 1908 and continued with some relevance up until the post-war period. Since the 1990s, an opposite migratory movement of Brazilians of Japanese descent going to work in Japan has set a new dynamic in this relationship. All the films in this group deal with those dynamics, and this presentation aims to disentangle a few of their discourses on immigration, race, ethnicity, and national identity. Although the analysis drew on a variety of unequal research materials gathered about these films (from long synopses and film stills to more detailed research done on others), the Brazilian themes found in their storylines already offer an interesting overview of the main tropes and issues at stake. Among other characteristics, the historical range of this collection shows that Brazil was once depicted as a "distant utopia" in the post-war period and later started to become a close reality, as Brazilian immigrants began to take part in Japanese society in the last thirty years.

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