From 2011 to 2013, Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Sakai Ko conducted a series of conversations with residents of the northern region of Tōhoku, Japan, an area heavily hit by both the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
Their research resulted in three films which have since come to be known as the Tōhoku Trilogy: Nami no oto (The Sound of the Waves, 2011), Nami no koe (Voices from the Waves, 2013), and Utau hito (Storytellers, 2013). In the films, inhabitants of the region face the camera in medium close-up to deliver recollections of the earthquake and tsunami, mukashi banashi (folk tales of rural life often featuring talking animals), and general reflections on life in Tōhoku. Centering on the rich folk tradition of storytelling, the films explore the complicity established in theencounter between speaker and listener. They document how a single event may live a thousand lives through the act of telling, and how different voices—the engines of storytelling—can render that one event into similar yet unique pieces of storytelling. The trilogy proposes storytelling as a transformative and empowering process, bearing social and political implications in such contexts as this recently ravaged region.
Each film screening is followed by a conversation with the filmmakers, with film curators Koyo Yamashita and Eduardo Thomas, and film theoritician Ayako Saito.
The Sound of the Waves Sakai Ko and Hamaguchi Ryusuke (Japan 2011), 142 min