Sanchu Uprising: Voices at Dawn
1726, Sanchu, Okayama Prefecture: farmers negotiate with the feudal domain in order to seek exemption from rising taxes. Infighting leads to suppression by the samurai class, and the farmers band together for battle. It’s a moment of injustice, setting the stage for bravery and sacrifice. However those daring characters remain largely offscreen in Juichiro Yamasaki’s brilliant film. Instead, the cowardly protagonist Jihei (Naohisa Nakagaki) faces a crisis of the risks of rebellion and its aftermath that resonates with our contemporary moment. In this rare independent jidaigeki, Kenta Tawara’s beautiful digital B&W photography channels and refigures luminaries of classical Japanese cinema, boasting rapturous animated sequences by Tomomichi Nakamura and experimental score by Ayako Sasaki.