| Producer Yamagamis initial letter
January 8, 2002
Dear Professor Noam Chomsky,
Please forgive me for writing to you suddenly, without introduction.
I am a Japanese film producer, involved with producing mostly documentary
films. I am writing you today because I would very much like to produce
a documentary film centered on interviews with you. I know this request
may come as an imposition, but I would ask that you read through my
proposal and give it your consideration.
I have been moved to make this documentary film by reading your thoughts
and analysis of the September 11 terrorist attack on New York and
the subsequent United States military actions against Afghanistan.
For me the biggest shock came not from the terrorist attack itself
but from the action of American state power against Afghanistan and
the response of the Japanese government, in blindly following in step
and dispatching the military (the Self-Defense Forces), a conscious
undermining, partially acknowledged, of Article 9 of the constitution.
On top of this has been the constant, uncritically supportive reporting
of these events by the mainstream media in both countries. (Although
it may well be that the political despair and apathy of Japanese citizens,
myself included, should be the first thing called into question.)
I felt that Japanese and American television and newspaper reports
from the United States at that time (and its hard to say this
has improved with time) were mostly uniform and one-sided, and they
were far from offering the kind of information I was looking for.
Then I had a chance to read the compilation of interviews that you
had done with media from around the world after September 11. Through
your commentary, I was exposed to information that placed and understood
the events in the vital flow of history, along with your lucid analysis
and opinions, and this was the source of great courage for me. I had
been aware of your past writings about subjects like the Vietnam War
and East Timor and your undaunting support for freedom of expression,
but encountering your observations in the aftermath of the recent
events reawakened me to the consistency of your perspective.
I thought, "What can I do, what should I do, as a film producer?"
and the answer was clear. I want to make a film about you, and by
mobilizing screenings of the film, to extend to many people the experience
I had in encountering your beliefs as a committed intellectual and
the perspective you bring to your work.
This is of course premised on your agreement to participate, but to
me it is of great importance that this film be made for screening
at theaters and in community gatherings of ordinary citizens (rather
than, for example, television broadcast). The screenings, organized
through independent mobilization, will provide a place for high-quality
discussion and perhaps spur participants to take concrete action.
I also think it is necessary for the film to be a high-quality work
of visual expression, not a flashy, facile piece of journalistic programming.
The film itself must be a force of criticism of mainstream mass media,
especially television. For example, we do not intend to use any of
the archival footage of the destruction of the World Trade Center,
which is repeatedly broadcast as an emblematic focus of public anger.
Too often such archival footage is consciously used in support of
propaganda, which robs us of the power of our free imagination.
I feel there is a real urgency to this production. I am aware of growing
criticism of your opinions in the United States, and I also feel a
strong sense of crisis not only about the aggressiveness of the Bush
administration but also about the Japanese governments following
this path toward a reliance on violence (military force) for the resolution
of problems. Because of this urgency, we would hope to complete filming
for the project as soon as possible, within the constraints of your
We would like to make a film of about 90 minutes, centered on interviews
with you and footage of speeches or lectures. We would like to conduct
about three interviews with you, in several locations, and also film
several speeches and lectures to students, again depending on your
schedule. We would also like to film you at work in an everyday environment.
The film will be subtitled and released initially in Japan, followed
by international distribution. I am working out plans for this film
together with director John Junkerman, and I will attach some background
on his and my work, for your reference.
If, on reading this letter, you are in general agreement with the
plans for our production, I would like to follow-up by working with
you to develop the content of the interviews and a schedule for production.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
With best regards,
Producer, Siglo, Ltd.