Experiencing Interruptions?

48 years – Silent Dictator

Iwao Hakamada, a former professional boxer, was sentenced to death in 1968 for mass murder and held on death row for 48 years, the longest stint in history. In 2014, he was granted an immediate release when the Shizuoka district court found that the evidence against him had been fabricated. Mr. Hakamada now lives peacefully with his sister in Hamamatsu.

This documentary was filmed in 2015, one year after Mr. Hakamada’s discharge. In interviewing Mr. Hakamada, now 79 years old and still suffering from prison psychosis, this record attempts to capture the immeasurable solitude of nearly half a century. Walking alongside Hakamada through his labyrinth of delusions, amidst fading memories and the powerful will to victory, it glimpses into Hakamada’s complicated psychology, a web of opaque logic warped by his life’s predicament.



  • Hiroshi Sunairi
    making mistakes, air, MAJULAH SINGAPURA, PUERTO (PORT), Where It Flows Out Into the Plains
  • Joel Kimbeck
    making mistakes, air, Where It Flows Out Into the Plains
  • Iwao Hakamada
    Key Cast
    Futari no shikeishû - saishin imada hirakarezu
  • Toshi Shibata
    Associate Producer
  • Nobuhiro Terasawa
    Associate Producer
  • Takao Sunairi
    Associate Producer
  • Fumiko Sunairi
    Associate Producer
  • Yoshinobu Tsunoo
    Associate Producer
  • Shoko Nagai & Satoshi Takeishi
    ANPO: Art X War, Seeing, Where It Flows Out Into the Plains
  • Yuuki Ono
    Blind, Pale Moon (Kami no tsuki)
  • Arto Lindsay
    Downtown 81, Down by Law, Step Across the Border, Marisa Monte - Memórias, Crônicas E Declarações de Amor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 17 minutes 47 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • WORLD IN MOTION – The 8th Cambodia International Film Festival
    Phnom Penh
    March 5, 2018
    World Premiere
  • Mt. Fuji Atami Film & VR Festival
    Atami City
    June 30, 2018
    Japan Premiere
    Special Prize Award
  • ARKIPEL Jakarta International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival 2018 – Homoludens
    August 11, 2018
    Indonesia Premiere
  • The Dharamshala International Film Festival
    November 1, 2018
    Indian Premiere
  • Wellington Independent Film Festival
    New Zealand
  • Theaterical Release: Cinemae-ra HAMAMATSU
    December 22, 2018
  • Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD)
    December 2, 2019
    PERSPEKTIF Category
  • Dumbo Film Festival 2019
    United States
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Hiroshi Sunairi

“What the modern movie lacks is beauty,” said D.W. Griffith, “the beauty of the moving wind in the trees.”

Born in Hiroshima in 1972, Sunairi lives in NYC. In the last decade, Sunairi has been making film works, expanding and experimenting with contents and forms of documentary films. From personal issues to collective memory and the public sphere, Sunairi creates each film’s distinct approach and style; Making Mistakes, a soul-searching journey in Tibet, COSMIC MOVEMENTS, a traditional ethnography on a group of Mexican Americans and Chicanos – indigenous people with roots in Mexico practicing the tradition of Anahuac (Aztec), Where it flows out into the plains, a meditative and spritual travelogue in India, air, about the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, 48 years – 沈黙の独裁者 (48 years – Silent Dictator), an interview documentary with Iwao Hakamada, known as the world’s longest-held death row inmate.

Currently Sunairi is in post-production with 石川真生 – オキナワより愛を込めて / Mao Ishikawa – From Okinawa with Love, about a Okinawan photographer Mao Ishikawa’s photo book of okinawan women with American GI and the history of sexual crimes by the US military in Okinawa, as well as Qué Tan Lejos / How Far Am I, a meditation on the relationship between reality and creation/poetry, personal and universal values in the changing context of a city, Juarez that rose out of the drug war in Mexico. The script was co-written with the protagonist, José Luis Rico.

Sunairi is researching to shoot in 2020, Das, a hybrid experimental biography/fiction/documentary film of Jibanananda Das, a Bengali poet, writer, novelist and essayist, known as the “most alone of poets.” The film will be written in collaboration with Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury and Amish Josh.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This film is not an easy film. It does not follow conventional linear storytelling, but it is rather like a philosophy book, of Iwao Hakamada who has severe delusions. However, with active interpretations of chapters of issues that have emerged out of his chaotic paradigm, the audience can glimpse a concrete logic of his warped world.