REPORTS FROM JAPAN OPENING!
Yokota documentary opens in Japan
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A documentary film on the activities over the past 29 years by Shigeru and Sakie Yokota in trying to reunite with their daughter Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea, opened Saturday with the hope it will raise more awareness on the abduction issue.
"Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" is directed by Chris Sheridan, a one-time producer for a Canadian TV station, and his wife, Patty Kim, who was an anchor at the station.
The documentary has already been shown in the United States and Canada and is scheduled for release in South Korea.
Shigeru said, "I hope the film will become widely known through word of mouth by those who watch it, raising awareness of the abduction issue worldwide."
Sheridan, 37, and Kim, 36, first learned about the abduction in an article in The Washington Post following the Japan-North Korea summit meeting in September 2002. From the article, they learned Megumi, was only 13 years old when she was abducted by North Korea in 1977.
Kim said through the abduction issue, people can also see the love of Megumi's family, which has been trying to rescue her.
Many viewers at screenings in the United States were moved by the story of the Yokotas, who have been looking for their daughter for nearly 30 years, she added.
The film was selected for the Best Documentary Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival held in January in Utah. The film also received honors at six film festivals.
The film also has been shown in Australia and New Zealand.
The 80-minute film shows the Yokotas giving talks about the abduction issue across the nation, as well as trivial family matters.
In 1979, when the government had yet to formally recognize Megumi as a North Korean abduction victim, Sakie appeared on a program for a commercial TV station to seek information about her missing daughter.
On the program, Sakie spoke to the viewers, hoping Megumi was one of them, saying, "Megumi, I really don't think you'd just leave us." The clip is included in the documentary.
The film opened at 37 movie theaters in 18 prefectures Saturday and is scheduled to be released in about 70 movie theaters in 38 prefectures by mid-February.
At Cinema Gaga, a movie theater in Shibuya, Tokyo, its roughly 200 seats were soon filled for the first screening starting at 9:40 a.m. Saturday. Some audience members were heard sobbing through the showing, while many others seemed engrossed in the film.
After the screening, Shigeru, Sakie and Teruaki Masumoto, 51, secretary general of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, spoke on the stage.
Shigeru, 74, said: "The packed theater indicates a high interest in the abduction issue, and I feel very encouraged. I believe this film will be of great help in solving the issue."
Sakie, 70, said: "The film reveals our suffering, frustration and everything. I think those who watched the film could understand what the abduction is all about and what kind of country North Korea is to us."
Kazue Nakaijma, 68, of Suginami Ward, Tokyo, who watched the film, said, "I'm close to the Yokotas' age, and my eldest daughter is almost the same age as Ms. Megumi, so I could feel strongly the family's sadness for Megumi going missing."
"I hope the Yokotas can be reunited with their daughter soon," she added.
(Nov. 26, 2006)
Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006
Award-winning documentary film on Megumi Yokota debuts in Japan
A critically acclaimed Canadian documentary about one of the North Korean abductees hit screens across Japan Saturday.
Shigeru Yokota (right) and his wife, Sakie, look at messages posted Saturday in a theater in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, by viewers of a Canadian documentary about their daughter, Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea in 1977.
"Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" was released in 37 theaters in Tokyo and 17 other prefectures, including Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. It will be shown in 20 other prefectures by mid-February.
Directed by journalists Chris Sheridan and his wife, Patty Kim, the film details what Yokota's parents, Shigeru and Sakie, have been through since their 13-year-old daughter was abducted in 1977 and their struggle to enlist government help in rescuing her and other abductees.
The parents made speeches Saturday morning at a sold-out cinema in Tokyo's Shibuya area.
The full theater "represents the keen interest toward the abduction issue. I feel grateful and encouraged. I believe this movie will be a major help to solve the issue," Shigeru Yokota, 74, said.
Sakie Yokota, 70, said, "I hope you will continue supporting us until the issue is resolved completely."
Among its honors, the 85-minute film was named best documentary at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and won the audience award at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah earlier this year.
North Korea admitted to abducting Yokota and 12 other Japanese in the late 1970s and early 1980s.