As a case study, this paper historicizes the film culture in Namchon district in Keijo(京城) based on a preliminary research on the film ephemera produced during the colonial period.
Through cross-examining articles appeared in Japanese newspapers and magazines at the time, this paper empirically reconstructs the Japanese settlers’ film culture in Keijo, a colonial city whose cultural environment was ethnically divided into ‘Bukchon’ and ‘Namchon.’ During the silent era, movie theaters in the Namchon district not only played a role of cinema chain through which films imported and distributed by Japanese film companies were circulated and exhibited but also served as a cultural community for Japanese settlers who migrated to a colony. The film ephemera issued by each theater not only provided information about the movie program, but also connected these Japaneses settlers in colonial city, Keijo to the homogeneous space and time in Japan proper. Both as a minority and colonizer in a colony, these Japanese settlers experienced a sense of ‘unity’ that could ‘distinguish’ their ethnic identity differentiated from Koreans through watching movies in this ethnically segregated cultural environment. In doing so, they were also able to connect themselves to their homeland in Japan Proper, despite on a cultural level. This is a cultural practice that strengthens a kind of long distance nationalism.
Examining Japanese film culture through film ephemera would not only contribute to the previous scholarship on modern theater culture and spectatorship established since the 2000s, but also be a meaningful attempt to find ways and directions for film history research through non-film materials.