Close Up

25 April 2024: Losing Ground + GAMA


Losing Ground
Anonymous Collective, 2023, 18 min

The aftermath of the 2021 coup d’état in Yangon, Myanmar sees an entire generation left in a brutal environment. The country’s economic capital city has rapidly become an open-air prison. Protest attempts are met with hostility, arrests, involuntary confinement and the threat of execution. With the constant threat of violence in the city, a collective of young anonymous voices from their apartments use beams of light, shouting, art and string instruments in an act of desperation. This creative movement exhibits glimmers of hope as the dictatorship continues to take hold.

Kaori Oda, 2023, 53 min

Gama is Kaori Oda's hour-long descent into the eponymous subterranean refuges used by thousands of Japanese civilians to escape American aggressions during World War II. Now serving as both a tourist destination and stalactite-ridden cemetery, solemn “peace guides” man these underground caves, seemingly oblivious to the ghost that flanks them. Stoically, they recite testimonies which reveal the individual stories behind mass suicides encouraged by the Japanese military, conveying their ramifications for both those who partook in the ritual, and those who shirked it. Slowly, soberingly, excavating the hysteria and pain of a historical conflict, Oda offers an immersive encounter in order to transmit the “dark experience” of the gamas’ subterranean dwellers. Unearthing a context in which the daylight atrocities of international warfare rippled down to civil conflict in the cavernous darkness below ground, Gama carefully carves a space for these buried stories to surface.

Followed by Q&A with Kaori Oda

Presented as part of Open City Documentary Festival