OUR FIRST JAPANESE SCREENING
Hi all. It's been a very interesting week -- probably our most interesting yet. For the first time, we showed the film in Tokyo to the families of the victims of the abductions. On Tuesday, we walked into Tokyo FM Hall across the street from the Imperial Palace and faced a sea of cameras, print reporters and eager family members waiting to finally see the film that has made their story so public in the United States. About 300 people jammed the hall to see the film. Those people not only included Megumi's family but also members of Japanese high society and some of the highest officials in the Japanese government, most notably a man named Shinzo Abe, who is the frontrunner to succeed Mr. Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's next Prime Minister. We met Mr. Abe briefly in a private room before the screening. He, like the families, was eager to see this film finally come to Japan. The night began with a press conference where we were put in the rather surreal position of being in front of the cameras instead of behind them. For the first time, we stood on a stage with Megumi's parents answering questions about their story. But the real test, of course, came when the whole audience sat down to finally see the film. We both stood at the back of the room a little nervous at what the families might think of seeing their very personal story so public. As we suspected, the Japanese audience watched politely and reacted at nearly the same points in the film as American audiences. There were some parts that elicited dead silence whereas Americans, Australians and Canadians have erupted in laughter or gasps of outright shock or disgust. I won't tell you where those parts are in case you haven't seen the film. But overall, the reaction was more or less the same as everyone else -- very emotional, which is unusual for a Japanese audience that generally tries to keep its emotions in check. Even though many Japanese people know this story very well, many of them told us later they'd never seen the story told this way before. Afterwards, the Yokota family answered questions with us about their experience watching the film but also their general experience living through the abduction of their child. Both of Megumi's parents were happy with the film and made a personal plea to distributors to put it in theaters and get out to as many outlets as possible. Megumi's Mom began to tear-up as she told the audience that the film brought up all the painful memories of the past 30 years and reminded her what a terrible situation they'd been thrust into. The cameras swarmed us as we thanked Megumi's parents for allowing us to show the film in Tokyo. Many family members came up to us and thanked us personally afterwards. It was, without a doubt, one of the most moving nights of our lives. Whatever the outcome of this film, that night alone shall go down as a one of our most memorable. Our thanks to Todd Rohal, who documented the whole thing for us on camera. Todd's first foray into Japanese society couldn't have been more intense.