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About Us


Ritornello Films aims to maximise the potential of documentaries and enhance the role of moving images. Since 2018 we have produced documentaries on artisans across Japan, sharing their stories in over 160 countries through NHK World, international broadcasters, and film festivals.

Our Mission

Sharing the true scenery of Japan for 100 years to come

Since ancient times, humans have interpreted the world around them and drawn happiness from all it contains. As people engaged with their surroundings and encountered other living beings in a cycle of life and death, they were able to transform nature and materialise a wide range of inventions. Working with the wider world, these people are known as artisans.

Through the process of making, the artisan’s body becomes a tool in its own right. The charcoal burner’s nose, the dyer’s skin, the washi papermaker’s hands, the black vinegar maker’s eyes — different parts of the body develop in relation to the production process, providing evidence of the wisdom born from the relationship between humans and nature. Over time, this peculiar phenomenon has been passed down from one generation to the next through non-verbal means. The transformation of the artisan’s body is controlled by nature to a point where it could not be otherwise, like a tree in an alpine region, its branches lost and trunk contorted by the weight of the snow. This physical manifestation is a historical records of sorts, having spanned several centuries, if not more. 


Today, as traditional industries continue to diminish, this inheritance is at risk of extinction. To capture these artisans is to give form to everything they embody and have inherited, to hand it over from one generation to another. Can a single artisan’s existence provide a window into the nature of their countless unknown predecessors? Contemplating an artisan’s existence — could that change our own perspectives on the world around us?


Our filmmakers follow artisans as they make things in close proximity to their surroundings. The countless scenes they capture are a record that crystallises the relationship between humans and nature. Compiled into an archive, they present an image of Japan in the online world. Led by the spirit of countless artisans devoted to their work, our aim is to spread their wisdom for generations to come.

Our Team


Naoki Uchiyama

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Mayu Hirano

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Itaru Matsui

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Masakazu Uehata

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Toru Kubota

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Satoshi Takanashi

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Sound Engineer

Our Partners

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