‘Barrier-free’ Screening: 'Now is the Past – My Father, Java, & the Phantom Films. ' by Shin-ichi Ise on 29 January

‘Barrier-free’ Screening: 'Now is the Past – My Father, Java, & the Phantom Films. ' by Shin-ichi Ise on 29 January


‘Barrier-free’ Screening by Shin-ichi Ise on 29 January 11am at Hibiya Library, Tokyo

Film title: Now is the Past – My Father, Java, & the Phantom Films.
[English subtitled]
《Nominated for: Luminous, unConscious Bias, and Beeld en
 Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award for Best Creative Use of Archive》
(2021 / 88 min. / English-subtitled)

■Date and time:
Saturday, January 29, 2022 from 11:00
★ Talk by Shinichi Ise (English interpreter available)

Hibiya Library / Museum

■Inquiries: 03-3406-9455 (Ise Film)

‘To be “barrier-free” is to overcome challenges’ (Shin-ichi Ise, Director)

I believe that ‘barrier-free’ films are not only for the blind or hearing impaired. For example, screening films with foreign language subtitles in Japan can also be an attempt at making a barrier-free society.

Overcoming these barriers, such as language or disabilities, I would like to proactively create a community where people can communicate with each other while enjoying movies.

Fee: ¥1,500 (Disability discount: ¥1,000, Children under the age of 15: Free)

Director's Note: Following my father’s path during and after WWII

Over 30 years ago, I decided to create a documentary about the filmmakers who lived before, during and after World War II. These are the filmmakers of my father’s generation. Around this time, I had started shooting my first independent film, “Nao-chan”.

I had known that my father, Chonosuke Ise, had been assigned to Indonesia during WWII as a part of a news film crew. I also knew that he had made a national policy film but he never spoke to me directly about that time.

The only related thing I could recall was that my father would sometimes hum the Indonesian song “Bengawan Solo” when he was in a good mood.

My father, the propagandist filmmaker

The actual role my father played in Indonesia was making Japanese propaganda films. This was an effort to propagate the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere within the region through movie magic.

Outside of my day job, I conducted interviews, travelled to Indonesia and spoke to people in the industry who were familiar with my father and his work during that time. I discovered that my father’s work was now archived in The Netherlands and I even encountered the “phantom films”. Before I knew it, more than 30 years had passed.

The filmmakers I spoke to about my father’s time in Indonesia are no longer living.

A long time ago, my father randomly said, “The Japanese efforts in Indonesia was not an invasion but a liberation. That’s why we were able to cooperate with the locals.” I faintly remember him muttering such things. Even now, there are Japanese people who maintain that our country’s occupation within the region was to liberate Asia. However, if you talk to Asian people who experienced this occupation, there are many who have not forgiven Japan’s actions. Even in Indonesia, which is said to be pro-Japanese, this sentiment is echoed.

The Japanese who invaded Asia may have forgotten but the people of Asia who were invaded have not.

Maybe it took too long. My son, Tomoya, who started working in the film industry about 20 years ago, became interested in his grandfather, Chonosuke Ise, and joined me on my “journey with my father”. My daughter, Kayo, also joined us as a narrator. Ise Chonosuke, Ise Shinichi, Ise Tomoya and Ise Kayo, this is the journey of three generations.

The reflection of one who experienced a world war

In January 1949, a 25-minute news film called “News Special Report: Tokyo Trial – Judgement of The Century” was shown in movie theatres across Japan. The final scene of the film, which was a high-pitched message of peace, was Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which renounces war. It is said that many Japanese people who longed for peace at that time sympathized with this “special news report”. The director and editor credit of the news film were both Chonosuke Ise.

I was also born in that fateful January of 1949 and my father named me Shinichi. The name means “one truth” but it is a name that embarrasses me.

My father must have named me Shinichi to express his own desire to see the 'truth'. I suppose it is a reflection of his sincerity as someone who personally experienced the war.

While I am burdened by this name that my father gave me, I have continued to make documentaries and consider what the concept of “one truth” means to me.


‘Very honest and courageous.’ (Amsterdam)

‘I had not seen or heard the perspective from a Japanese side before. My Indonesian grandparents were both in Japanese internment camps in Indonesia and Singapore during WWII. As a grandchild I am only now at the age of 31 realising how much impact that family history still has in my daily life.’

‘For me it was special to see your film and meet you because my father and grandfather were prisoned in a Japanese camp in Java.

The project of your film and your quest heals and cures wounds of war of my family. It gives hope.’

Testimonials were collected at International Documentaryfilm Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November 2021.

Hibiya Library / Museum