Release date1971 (1971) ProducersYoshikane Shigematsu, Ryutaro Takagi, Matsu Yoneda Similar moviesGrin Without a Cat (1977), Unacceptable Levels (2013), The 11th Hour (2007), Elemental (2012), Blue Vinyl (2002)
Minamata the victims and their world
Minamata: The Victims and Their World(水俣 患者さんとその世界, Minamata: Kanja-san to sono sekai) is a Japanese documentary made in 1971 by Noriaki Tsuchimoto. It is the first in a series of independent documentaries that Tsuchimoto made of the mercury poisoning incident in Minamata, Japan.
The film focuses on the residents of Minamata and nearby communities who suffered damage to their nervous systems, or who were born deformed, due to the ingestion of fish containing abnormal amounts of mercury released into the sea by a fertilizer factory owned by Chisso. It not only shows their current condition and the hardships borne by their families, but also the discrimination they had suffered from other Minamata residents, the insufficient response by Chisso, the slowness of government action, and the problems faced by victims who had not been officially designated as suffering from Minamata disease. The main action of the last part of the film is the effort of victims and their supporters to buy shares of Chisso in small quantities so that they can attend the annual stockholders' meeting and confront the corporate leadership. The documentary takes the side of the victims in their struggle, but it also devotes much time to understanding their lifestyle, especially their traditions and their close relationship with the sea.
Minamata: The Victims and Their World screened at numerous film festivals and won several awards, including the Film Ducat at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival. The critic Mark Cousins has programmed it as one of "ten documentaries that shook the world."
The original Japanese film is 167 minutes long. The version currently available on DVD with English subtitles is 120 minutes long and was first prepared by Tsuchimoto for international environmental conferences and film festivals.