Our Daily Bread in Japan
Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter's Unser täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread) [+see also:
film profile] met huge success since its Japanese release on November 10, 2007, breaking all records at the Theater Image Forum in Tokyo.
The 2005 meditative documentary dealing in silence with large-scale food production in Europe went passed 25,000 admissions during its first 14 weeks, for a total box office of 40 million yen (255,951 euro).
Shin Nippon Films representative Yo Saito, who purchased the film and is in charge of the distribution, analyzes this success:
"We were originally planning 1 or 2 prints on rotation, but due to a very enthusiastic response from theater programmers when we started sending info about the film, we quickly raised this number to 4 prints, before distribution or promotion had even started. In the end, we used 7 prints in total and we also used DV-CAM and DVD formats for smaller venues. In total, the film has been showed on more than 60 screens through the country. We collaborated with many new places, sometimes received phone calls from theaters we had never heard of.
The film was released as Japan faced recurrent scandals concerning food poisoning, strongly questioning the safety of Japanese food supply, which strongly relies on Chinese food industry. The film thus attracted the attention not only of cinema writers but also journalists specialized in social, business or agricultural issues. It was even publicize in restaurant chains' magazines or large food companies internal publications.
And there is also something related to a Japanese historical specify: for reasons linked to Japanese religion Shitoism, people working in slaughterhouses, tanneries, knacker's yards and morgues -people who worked with bodies, carcasses and blood- were segregated all through the medievaltimes and formed an "untouchable" caster called the Burakumin. At the end of the 19th century, the Burakumin's official outcast status was abolished, but they still suffer nowadays from unofficial discrimination when renting a property, looking for job or trying to get married.
So in Japan, images of slaughterhouses are totally taboo: showing workers faces could cause them harm socially, so it is completely unheard-of. And although Japanese really enjoy eating large quantities of meat, they are totally disconnected from the way it gets into their plates.
When I saw Our Daily Bread in the Berlinale market in 2006, the film had a very strong impact on me and I thought that the fact that the film was shot in Europe could allow us to show something really new and could find resonance in the public."
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