Amid the ashes of post-WWII Japan, the bittersweet sounds of American traditional country music drifted through the radio airwaves. Although intended for the U.S. occupying forces, a vast "ghost audience" of young Japanese quickly warmed to the soothing, yet foreign, sounds.
Since falling in love with the music in the 1950s, Charlie Nagatani has lived to play and spread country music throughout Japan. From his hometown of Kumamoto in southern Japan, Charlie operates a family-run honky tonk named Good Time Charlie’s and is the promoter of the largest country music festival in Japan, Country Gold. Masuo Sasabe’s band The Blueside of Lonesome is one of Japan’s most renowned bluegrass bands. Sasabe was in the first wave of Japanese musicians to travel to the United States seeking the source of bluegrass music in the early 1970s. Through these modern-day portraits, FAR WESTERN illuminates a little-known lost chapter of American music culture.
After premiering in competition at IDFA, FAR WESTERN won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival and has been hailed as “one documentary that deserves to be seen” (Slash Film).
DIRECTED BY JAMES PAYNE
UNITED STATES, JAPAN | 2016 | ENGLISH AND JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES