Thursday, September 24, 2020

Japanese documentary Oyster Factory (牡蠣工場) online as part of 2020 Pittsburgh Japan Documentary Film Award, tonight, September 24.



The Japanese documentary Oyster Factory (牡蠣工場) will be presented online this evening from 6:30 pm, followed by a conversation with the director, Soda Kazuhiro, as part of the University of Pittsburgh's 2020 Pittsburgh Japan Documentary Film Award. A synopsis, from the production company:
“Oyster Factory” (Kaki Kouba) is a feature length documentary that observes and depicts the rich and complex world of small oyster factories including its fishermen and workers. The film closely follows their daily lives, which seem uneventful on the surface, but are facing some gradual, inevitable changes because of the depopulation of their town and globalization. The small remote town of Ushimado, Okayama, by the Seto Inland Sea, is the backdrop of this documentary.

​Watanabe, who works for the Hirano Oyster Factory here, used to own an oyster factory in Minami Sanriku, Miyagi. However, since he was hit severely by the tsunami and the nuclear accident in 2011, he moved to Ushimado with his wife and small children to take over the business from Hirano who was thinking of closing the factory because he had no successor.

In Ushimado, the shortage of labor is a serious problem because its population is rapidly declining. Traditionally, oyster shucking has been a job of local men and women, but beginning a few years ago, some of the factories started using Chinese workers. The wave of globalization is already reaching this small remote town.

Hirano Oyster Factory had never employed any foreign workers before, but Watanabe finally decided to bring in two workers from China. He bought a prefabricated small house for their residence, investing a considerable amount of money.

Meanwhile, the new Chinese workers Zhao and Zhen finally arrive.

Can they all get along?
The event is free and open to the public, and will be hosted live on Vimeo.