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March 2012

Research on TV Producers: People Who Have Contributed to the Development of TV Documentaries in Japan
Part II: Toshiki Kudo ( NHK ):

Interpreting the Narratives of a Reticent “Storyteller”

Hirokazu Koreeda / Makoto Higashino

This series cast a spotlight on TV producers who played an important role in pioneer days of TV documentaries. The second part features NHK’s Toshiki Kudo.

In this series we focus on people who produced distinguished programs in the early days of TV documentaries in an attempt to fathom their personalities and works. The second part features Toshiki Kudo (1922-1992). Hirokazu Koreeda, movie and TV director, discuss life and works of the late TV director. Mr. Kudo produced a large number of featured documentaries as TV director, with NHK’s TV series Aru Jinsei [A Life] as a pivotal work, during Japan’s high-growth period from the mid-‘60s to early ‘70s, and portrayed the Japanese who lived in the same period. His representative works include Waga-gun Waga-machi - 1967-nen Natsu [Waga Town, Waga District: Summer in 1967] (1967), Haisen [Decommissioned Ship] (1969), and Tomigaya Kokumingakko [Tomigaya National Elementary School] (1969, National Arts Festival grand-prix winner). His programs can be characterized by the portrayal of meetings and partings of individuals who gathered in a specific place in a polyphonic style. In the programs we see multiple lives of different people and multilayered time-line, which cross and collide, and eventually show the whole picture. The narrations in his programs also have an unparalleled pace and style. His scripts clear off all the personal matters and focus on numbers and data, which lead to stoic narrations and, at the same time, extremely distinctive sentences, where the narration does not trace the images but the narration itself make a difference in the images. That is his technique. Focusing on one of his masterpieces, Waga-gun Waga-machi - 1967-nen Natsu, the authors try to interpret the underlying philosophy and methodology of Kudo’s works.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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