300 Pink Films! Why a Female Director Continues to Film Women’s Bodies
Sachi Hamano, a film director who wants to "put women's sexuality back in women's hands," has been fighting against
I decided to live in this world, and I have been fighting against it. The film industry and the male-dominated society that makes it. There were walls and ceilings, but I decided to live here, so I wanted to live the way I wanted.”
A filmmaker by profession. In a career spanning more than half a century, one woman has made more than 300 pink films. She is Sachi Hamano, 74 years old. She is a pioneer among female directors. There is probably no other director in Japan who has had a longer career than she has.
She loved movies and wished to make her own films as a director, but at that time, major film companies only hired male university graduates. High school graduate girls were not allowed to join the company. So, he went undercover at an independent film company. Even though sexual harassment and power harassment were commonplace during his days as an assistant director, he still bet his entire life on film, hoping that one day he would be able to make it.
It was at the age of 23 that an opportunity presented itself. He was given the opportunity when he was 23 years old, after an incident occurred in which the director did not show up to the set. Of course, I was ready for it. The first pink film he made in this way was “Nyotai Chinmoku. This film was so well received by the distribution company
Her films, which she could only make because she is a woman, have become popular.
Her pink films were the kind of films that “only a woman can make. This is symbolized by the “close-ups” of the female body that male directors are too shy to take.
I think it is the relationship of trust with the actresses that makes it possible to shoot in that way. I think the female body is beautiful. The breasts, nipples, and buttocks are beautiful. Beautiful things are not obscene. That is why I took close-ups of pubic hair. At that time, male directors seemed to be putting their depressed male passions on women’s bodies. I centered my work on women bursting with pleasure. The actresses understood and agreed that I was going to depict “sex that feels good to women. The male idea of sex is too bad. It is impossible for a woman to feel good if she is made to do it with her mouth out of the blue. Men get pleasure easily, but women don’t feel ecstasy from the beginning. It’s interesting, because when we focused on women’s pleasure, the male customers became interested.”
Both customers and museum owners were fascinated by her work, which consistently emphasized “female-oriented sexuality. At one time, she directed so many films that she used the alias “Chise Matoba” because all three of her films in a triple feature would be “Director Sachi Hamano” when shown at movie theaters.
I can only depict from the female side because I am a woman. I have always thought that the way women deal with sex must change. We shouldn’t be disciplined. To be disciplined in sex is to lose yourself, and you must not give up your own feelings. I would rather do what feels good alone than be disciplined by a man.”
On the other hand, she says, men are also too caught up in “being a man. They think they have to be strong, they have to make a man get an erection, they have to make a man go faster. She believes that these assumptions also make it difficult for men to live.
I think it is important to break men’s assumptions. There are too many things that men and women have to be this way. I think that’s why both sides are suffering. If men could think that it is okay not to have an erection, the relationship between men and women would change.
Sex is life itself. Women have to take the initiative. She has always emphasized this point in her pink films.
Why did she start making general films as well?
I am not interested in food, clothing, shelter, or anything else. As long as I can make films, I don’t need anything else. All my life I have wanted to focus on making films.
The way she speaks so clearly is always like a dashing wind. However, her experience so far has been a series of hardships for the sake of “wanting to make movies,” as she puts it. Even now, she is still unable to shoot a movie at COVID-19 crisis. Although she was a well-known director in the pink film industry, she started making general films in 1998 with the release of “The Seventh Official Realm Wandering: In Search of Midori Ozaki,” and she has made six films in 24 years. The trigger was a comment she heard at the Tokyo International Women’s Film Festival in 1996: “Kinuyo Tanaka has directed the most number of feature-length dramatic films by a female director in Japan, with six films. Ms. Hamano could not believe her ears. She wondered if the hundreds of pink films she had made were “not films,” or if she was to be forgotten, or if she was to become the director who had never existed.
She said, “Male directors of pink films are recognized. I was angry and wondered why I was the only one. I had been a director in the pink film industry for a long time, but I had never been a director in the pink film industry. “ Female Sexuality “ I had depicted “female sexuality” in my pink films. But I couldn’t stand to be silenced at women’s film festivals. I’m good at turning anger into energy, so I thought, “If that’s the case, I’ll make a general film.
I have lived my life, sometimes cutting down and sometimes breaking through big walls and ceilings. But he has never once asked anyone to take down a wall or sneak through from the side. I have always “fought” fair and square.
A Girl Who Loves Movies Becomes a Director
Ms. Hamano was born in Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture, the eldest daughter of a father who was a fisherman and former military officer and a mother who grew up as a young lady. When his mother’s brother’s business was taken over, they moved to Shizuoka Prefecture. Shizuoka City had a movie town at the time, and every Saturday, my parents, younger brother, and the rest of the family looked forward to going to the movies. One morning a short time after he started junior high school, his father said to Hamano on his way to school, “I’m sorry, I might not be able to go to the movies today. I might not be able to go to the movies today. I have a headache. The school was notified and rushed him to the hospital, but his father was no longer breathing.
After that, she wandered around the movie district, watching her mother’s back as she worked diligently, and was allowed into the projection room, as in the Italian film “New Cinema Paradise. The projectionist, whom she befriended, taught her everything about film. She learned that film is a living thing. It was an exciting time for me.
Why Power Harassment Happens in the Film Industry
Mr. Hamano has made more than 300 pink films, setting a milestone in the world of pink films, and since then, he has been involved in general films that he “wanted to make,” but he says, “I have never once thought that the director is the eldest.
I live in a place that has nothing to do with authority or power. Some people mistakenly think that a film director is at the top of a pyramid, but that is not true. The full responsibility for the work, including caring for it, lies with the director. That is certain. The theme may also belong to the director. But that is not the same as saying, “Listen to what I say. You can’t make a film personal.”
She sometimes yells loudly on the set. She sometimes scolds the assistant director, saying, “What are you doing? However, she does not yell because she is “too smart,” but because she is desperate to protect the life of the film so that it will not be damaged.
I think a work must contain the thoughts and feelings of everyone involved, not only the staff but also the actors and actresses. A film that makes anyone cry or suffer is not a work of art. A film made with the words “do as I say, do as I do” flying around, regardless of gender, is just a film made with the director’s distorted desires. Sexual harassment and power harassment of film directors has become an issue, and I think everyone has come to believe that they have power.”
He was approached for “the privilege of walking the red carpet at the Tokyo International Film Festival” for his third general film, “Kohorogijo,” but he turned it down. He says with a straight face that he does not want to be eloquent, that he does not want to be self-serving, and that he would not be able to forgive himself if he did so.
He won’t walk the red carpet.
I don’t make films for the sake of winning awards at Cannes or walking the red carpet. I just want to work as one with my crew to make a film that I am satisfied with. I don’t mind being an outlaw. I want to live my life the way I want to, without listening to anyone.”
It has been that way since he was a child. If I am not convinced, I will not move, even as a lever. When he was in the first grade of elementary school, there was a commotion about a classmate’s missing school lunch money, and for some reason Mr. Hamano was suspected by his homeroom teacher, who even searched inside his school bag. In the end, the school lunch money was simply left at home by the child, but after that, Mr. Hamano stopped talking to his classmates. She did not respond when her name was called in the morning assembly, nor did she answer when pointed at in class. Yet, she still continued to go to school, which is where her willpower and resistance came in. This was her original experience.
When she was in the sixth grade, she once received an all-five grade in a correspondence book. Since she was planning to take an entrance examination for a junior high school affiliated with a national university, her homeroom teacher must have “disciplined” her. But she was not convinced.
I can’t even do an inverted ascent,” she said. I can’t even do an inverted ascent. I went directly to the teacher’s office to ask why I could not do 5 in physical education. I went to the teacher’s office to ask why 5 Why was it a 5? I didn’t want the school to use me for their honor. I was the kind of child who would question anything that didn’t agree with me.
That hasn’t changed. I hate the word “fawning,” because I don’t want to be taken advantage of. Because he does not consider it a good thing to have sponsors pay him to make films, he established a production company called Dantansha in his mid-30s. If you do independent production, you don’t have to be dictated to by others. She takes pride in the fact that she has always lived her life in such a straightforward manner.
Actress Kazuko Yoshiyuki, who has appeared in five of the films she has made, is the author of the book “Onna ni Nai Nai Shokugyo: How I Directed and Produced Over 300 Films,” which Hamano has just published. （In the obi of the book, “How I Directed and Produced Over 300 Films” (published by KAKOROKO KINO KABUSHI), Ms. Hamano writes, “I was so impressed with how pleasant it was to have an honest wind blowing on the set.
I want to kill myself for thinking, “Oh well.”
I still intend to make more films, both pink films and general films.
I want to stay active until I die. I want to die thinking I lived my life.”
To her, a low-budget pink film that takes only a few days to shoot, or a general movie that costs tens of millions of dollars, are “the same film. She always risks her life.
When I make a film, I have all the cutlists in my head,” she said. When the script comes in, I do a lot of preparation, and then we start cranking. I feel like I’m on fire from the inside out. It is especially difficult to get a budget for general films. I fought against everything and now I am standing here. When I reach the first cut, I feel my existence. It is not until the first cut that I can really face the film, for me.”
You never know what will happen during filming. So when the film is cranked up, he calmly accepts the fact that “we were able to shoot without any major problems or accidents” as good enough. After that, there is editing to be done, and he doesn’t feel that he has completed the film.
There are times when I feel something is a little different on set,” he says. It’s slightly different from the way I had it in my head. But if I compromise because I don’t have the money or time, I will regret it for the rest of my life. Even if it is something trivial that people would not notice if they saw it, I would want to strangle myself at that moment if I thought it was okay. So I will never compromise. I would never do anything that would make me think I couldn’t forgive myself.”
That is probably why Mr. Yoshiyuki called it an “honest breeze. The scene is always filled with honest feelings.
Mr. Hamano often holds a “tea party” after the screening of his films. Men and women, young and old, who have seen the film gather to share their impressions. She listens attentively.
Six of her general films have been highly acclaimed, especially at overseas film festivals. Lily Festival,” which depicts sexual love among the elderly, has been invited to film festivals around the world.
A Japanese woman living in Germany said to me, ‘If films like this are now being made, it will make life easier for women in Japan. I replied emphatically, “No, that’s not true (laughs). I think there are still many men who don’t want to believe or don’t believe that older women have sexual desire. I intend to continue making films based on the theme of putting women’s sexuality back in their own hands.
If you take away my films, you have nothing,” said Hamano with a charming smile.
How I Directed and Produced Over 300 Films. （published by Kakara-kara) is released this month. Ms. Hamano, who aims to “put women’s sexuality back in women’s hands,” laughed, “I had a lot of battles in making this book.
Interview and writing： Sanae Kameyama Photography： Yuri Adachi Photography cooperation： Shin Nihon Eizo Co.