Monday, May 12, 2008

Another documentary takes on Japan’s war time past

Variety Asia online ran a story yesterday about what could be another potentially controversial documentary along the lines of Ying Li’s “Yasukuni”.

Directed by Kim Dong-won and commissioned by Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy “63 Years On” traces the history of “comfort women” or women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War Two. It’s estimated that as many as 200,000 women were recruited/ captured, but exact documentation is sketchy, as many of the records were destroyed by the Japanese forces.

The hour-long documentary wants to show that women from nations as varied as The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the Dutch East Indies were enslaved by Japanese forces. The official position of the Japanese government has been that the issue of comfort women only concerns Korea and Japan.

Although narrated in English and geared toward the HD digital market Kim Dong-won has already been invited to screen “63 Years On” at film festivals in London, Bergen, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

I find it strange that documentaries about Japan’s war time past directed by foreigners like “Yasukuni”, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s “Nanking” and now potentially “63 Years On” cause such a firestorm of controversy in Japan while a film like “Ari no Heitai (The Ants)” directed by Japanese documentary filmmaker Kaoru Ikeya (check out my review here: did remarkably well during its very limited release in Japan.

Check out the full story on “63 Years On” at Variety Asia Online:

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