Curating Film

Kazuhiro Soda Oyster Factory (2015)

I am currently working on an independent curatorial project, gathering contemporary non-fiction Japanese films that explore senses of place and everyday life. The project aims to offer audiences outside Japan a programme of films that give insight and insound into how it might feel to live in Japan today. How it might feel, senses of place, everyday life… these terms are interpreted broadly in attempt to recognise that everybody senses place differently (every human, animal, vegetable, and mineral). Listening to the diverse voices that make up place, the project attends to topics including pollution, urbanisation and regeneration, immigrant labour, ageing, animal life, and home.

With thanks to The Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University, Haden Guest at Harvard Film Archive, Koyo Yamashita at Film Forum (Tokyo), Asako Fujioka, and many others.

For more information please email me.


radio broadcast

available to listen to online here: framework radio


sound composition
recorded and edited by Becca Voelcker

stereo, 18 minutes

with thanks to
Bliss, Koko and Andre Uhl
Ernst Karel, Andrew Littlejohn
and the sonic ethnography class

Sensory Ethnography Lab
Harvard University


available to listen to online here: framework radio

Island (2015) 
premiered at Whitstable Biennale
review in Aesthetica

talk 発表

Anthro-film Laboratory 20

Filming The Everyday: 
Poetics of Observation and Sense of Place in Artist, 
Experimental and Ethnographic Cinema.

Speaker : Becca Voelcker

Date & Time: June 27th, 16:00 –, 2016

Venue: National Museum of Ethnology,
4th Floor, Eizo Jikken Shitsu
(Visual Experiment Laboratory), 
Senri Expo-Park 10-1, Suita, Osaka
565-8511 Japan

reservation is required by 2 days before the seminar

会場: 国立民族学博物館4階 映像実験室
〒565-8511 大阪市吹田市千里万博公園10-1


Watching a film can be like traveling to another place. We smell and feel the film’s sights and sounds, learning about other cultures and perspectives. Unbound from conventional plot or narrative, experimental non-fiction film enjoys freedom in conveying everyday life and sense of place. It can be made by anthropologists, artists, poets, and by you or me— as well as by trained filmmakers. Given the current global context of economic, political and environmental migration, places and identities are changing every day. Shifting patterns of landscape, language, labour and memory mean that attending to issues of place (and displacement) is vital for preserving peace, promoting intercultural understanding, and protecting the environment. This talk looks at ways I have engaged with filmmaking and sense of place through scholarly, artistic and curatorial approaches. It asks what exactly might be meant by ‘sense of place,’ and why should it be held in such high regard in art, anthropology and film studies. Drawing from examples from around the world, including films made at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, this talk will attempt to identify some common threads that weave diverse filmmaking practices together. It will also draw from Japanese examples and discuss a curatorial project I am currently developing about Japanese nonfiction film and sense of place. The talk will be in English but please feel free to comment and ask questions in Japanese.

Island (2015) 
premiered at Whitstable Biennale
review in Art Review

'The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers: A Politics of Representation,' 
[Ben Rivers and Artangel]

King's Review, University of Cambridge
May 2016

'Memory and Reconstruction: Japanese photography 
and architecture in two exhibitions,' New York
Ocula, April 2016

Artists’ Short Film Programme

Saturday 4th June - Sunday 12th June

H4, Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable, Kent, England

This programme of short films runs three times every day during the festival. 
The programme starts at 10:00, 12:40 and 15:20. 


sound composition
recorded and edited by Becca Voelcker

CD, stereo, 18 minutes

with thanks to
Bliss, Koko and Andre Uhl
Ernst Karel, Andrew Littlejohn
and the sonic ethnography class

Sensory Ethnography Lab
Harvard University



A film essay by Becca Voelcker. 
Colour, sound. 48 min.
Harvard University

with thanks to Professor T. Bestor

[This film essay tracks ways in which six directors have filmed Tokyo’s transport system as a cinematic vehicle for exploring socio-economic and political senses of place in the city. The voiceover is a collage of writings drawn from anthropology, urbanism, and visual theory, while the images and soundtrack are taken from the original films.
Transport runs throughout these films by way of shots of (or taken from) Tokyo’s subway, commuter trains, taxis and elevators. Different from American road movies, where wide roads stretch ‘out west’ and evoke notions of freedom, these films are routed and rooted in describing the densely built city and its defined social practices. While on one hand they document journeys that are bound to iron tracks and scheduled for commuting, they also sidetrack into territories of unrest.
Taking as its departure point the year 1960, Tracked also traces the profound influence of Japanese filmmakers (Ozu, Tsuchimoto, Adachi) on their European successors (Wenders, Marker, Grandrieux), and more widely, how Tokyo has so thoroughly captured the imaginations of people in and outside Japan. A seminal decade in Japan’s social history, the 1960s witnessed unprecedented economic growth, continual political and cultural influence from the West (particularly America), and an increasingly prominent role for youth in society. As Japan’s capital city, Tokyo found itself in the thoroughfare of such changes. While the renewal of the US-Japan Security Treaty (1960), the Tokyo Olympics (1964) and the Osaka World Expo (1970) put Japan on the world stage in this decade, many Japanese questioned the benefits of their country’s supposed boom and, with increasing discontent, they took to the streets.
Today, after the economic bubble, after the global financial crisis, and after Fukushima, Tokyo is a very different place. However, certain tracks from the 1960s have left traces. With Prime Minister Abe altering Japan’s military legislation, and nuclear power plants being re-opened, people are once again occupying Tokyo’s streets in protest. In 2020 Tokyo will host the Olympics again and is preparing itself for a demonstration of the nation’s recovery from the Great Eastern Earthquake (as did the 1964 Olympics, in its post-war recovery). The Tokyo-Kanazawa shinkansen line and a proposed mag-lev train are just two examples of the way in which Japan is mapping out this recovery and mobility. Down the line, films that map the corresponding spatial and social effects of such mobility will invite further ‘tracking,’ and couple to the rolling stock of city films presented here.]


Ozu, Yasujiro. Late Autumn (Akibiyori). Japan, 1960, colour, 127 min.
Wenders, Wim. Tokyo Ga. Germany/ Japan, 1985, colour, 92 min.
Tsuchimoto, Noriaki. On the Road: A Document (Dokyumento rojō). Japan, 1964, black and white, 54 min.
Marker, Chris. The Koumiko Mystery. France/ Japan, 1967, colour, 54 mins.
                            Sans Soleil. France/ Japan, 1983, colour, 103 min.
Adachi, Masao. AKA Serial Killer (Ryakushō renzoku shasatsuma). Japan, 1969, 86 min.
Grandrieux, Philippe. It May Be that Beauty has Reinforced Our Resolve (Il se peut que la beauté ait renforcé notre resolution). France/ Japan, 2011, colour, 74 min.

The Endeavour, Tyneside Cinema Gallery, Newcastle
Frieze, June 2015

Parasophia, Kyoto, Japan
Ocula, April 2015

Art Fair Tokyo and a Suggested Itinerary in Five Parts
Ocula, March 2015