Friday, June 30, 2006

JAPAN PRESS

This is from the Mainichi newspaper in Tokyo...

6/28/06

Film depicting the abduction of Megumi Yokota shown in Tokyo

A film depicting the abduction of Megumi Yokota by North Korea and her family's life was shown on Tuesday night in Tokyo in a preview.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and members of a group of abductees' families and an organization supporting them were present at the preview. The schedule for showing the film to the general public has not yet been determined, organizers said.
The film titled, "Abduction," which was produced by a couple living in Washington, depicts the life of Yokota's family from the time when she was abducted up to now. It quotes former North Korean spies.
Yokota's father, 73-year-old Shigeru, hailed the movie. "It was well produced. It's perfect."
Her mother, Sakie, 70, also said the film showed the sadness of her life. "I couldn't stop shedding tears as I thought she led such a sad life." (Mainichi)

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.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

AUSTRALIA RADIO INTERVIEW

This is our radio interview with Phillip Adams, one of Australia's most well-known radio personalities.


http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2006/1667364.htm

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"ABDUCTION" SIGNS WITH ROCO FILMS

June 21, 2006

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC Following the success at several high-profile festivals and a growing international interest in "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story", Safari Media has signed a deal with Roco Films, a California-based distributor and sales representative for documentaries. Roco Films will be ABDUCTION's official representative outside of the United States. Annie Roney, the founder and head of Roco Films, saw ABDUCTION in January at the Slamdance Film Festival and loved it. "As a foreign distributor of award-winning theatrical documentaries, we look for fresh narratives that illuminate an issue, or part of the world, while at the same time transcend the borders in which they are told," said Roney. "ABDUCTION encompasses all those things. I was particularly touched by the intimate access and refreshing glimpse into one extraordinary Japanese family."
Roney is a highly-praised distributor of documentary films whose incredible work ethic and reputation for representing good stories has won her the admiration of the top buyers and filmmakers in the industry. Her films include the Oscar-winning film "Born Into Brothels" and the Oscar-nominated "Street Fight" and "The Weather Underground."
"We met Annie at Slamdance," said Chris Sheridan, who along with his wife, Patty Kim, directed and produced ABDUCTION. "I could tell right away she was the right fit for this film. She loved the story and knew what it would take to get TV networks and distributors interested in it."
ABDUCTION tells the story of Megumi Yokota, a 13-year-old Japanese girl kidnapped by North Korean spies. The film follows her parents' emotional journey to try to bring her home. The film's Executive Producer is Jane Campion, the Oscar-winning director of THE PIANO.
ABDUCTION is produced in association with the BBC.

For more info on Roco Films, visit www.rocofilms.com
For more info on "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story", visit www.abductionfilm.com

SYDNEY SENSATION!!


WOW!! That's about all we can say about Australia's premiere festival -- the Sydney Film Festival. We just got back from a very long round trip to the land down under. The film's in competition at the festival and we can now put the Sydney audiences at the top of our list as the best so far. The response was so moving for us and really affected us a lot. The film opened on Saturday, June 17 at the State Theatre, an amazing old venue that recalls a time when going to the movies was a big deal. The decor is part Victorian opera house/part early 20th-century kitsch. One person remarked it felt like being inside Prince's brain. The theatre holds 2000 people and we were completely shocked when about 1500 people showed up on opening night. But the most exciting part was the fact that Jane Campion, our Executive Producer (a Kiwi by birth but a longtime resident of Australia) joined us on stage at the end of the opening night. It was the first time that all three of us (Chris, Patty and Jane) had been together to show the film. It was also the first time Jane had seen the film on the big screen and with an audience. She was absolutely moved and could barely speak when she got up to answer questions at the end. Aussies poured their hearts out in our guest books for Megumi's family. Others, unable to sign the book because of the long lines, left letters for the family or sent emails the next day. The second screening proved to be more proof of the incredible hearts of the Australian people. Another 1000 + audience and a lively Q&A afterwards. We could only stand back in awe. The festival itself was an extremely well-organized affair with every detail taken care of and every need looked after. Thank you Sydney for making our first foray into your country an extremely memorable one! Off to Japan next to show the families, the Japanese government and the Japanese media the film. This wil, no doubt, be our toughest audience yet.

Monday, June 12, 2006

BACK FROM ATLANTA/NEXT STOP SYDNEY

We're back from the Atlanta Film Festival -- another successful outing. The festival director, Jake Jacobsen, was one of the first directors (after Slamdance) to contact us and tell us he really wanted the film. He's been a big supporter after he saw it in Park City in January. The Atlanta opening night was packed with an audience that kept us answering questions for well over an hour after the screening. The screening was at the Landmark Midtown Art Theatre, located in a very hip area of Atlanta. Locals tell me they show the best arthouse films in the city and there are some great restaurants in the neighborhood, including this absolutely out-of-this-world good Vietnamese restaurant called "Nam". Someone reported that Matthew Perry (of FRIENDS fame) was in the audience the first night although I didn't personally spot him. Two friends sat behind him. The second screening on Monday was excellent with another enthusiastic response during the Q&A. Some of the most beautiful things written so far in our message book to Megumi's family were written following our Atlanta screenings. It's those gestures that really move us and make us realize the effect this film's having on people. We told the audience that we'd be bringing those messages directly to the Yokota family in a couple of weeks when we see them during our private screening for the families of the abductees, the government and media. But first, it's off to Sydney, Australia tomorrow for our opening in the land down under. Hopefully, Aussies won't be too wrapped up in World Cup fever (the Australian team beat Japan yesterday for their first-ever World Cup win) to come out to the film. It'll be the first time we show it with Jane Campion present which will be an absolute thrill for us. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Atlanta Film Festival

It's been awhile since we wrote to let you know what's going on. We're off to Atlanta today to kick off a crazy tour that will end in Japan. The Atlanta Film Festival started last night and we're off to a great start considering the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (the biggest paper there) picked ABDUCTION as one of its three favorites at the festival. Not a bad beginning. The film's been nominated in the festival's BEST DOCUMENTARY category. We'll arrive there tonight and will be at Sunday and Monday's screenings. Then we're off to Sydney, Australia where we'll show the film for the first time in that country. Jane Campion will be with us so it'll be very special. After a day and a half back in Washington, DC, we'll be off to Japan to show ABDUCTION for the first time in Tokyo. It's an invite-only affair with an impressive guest list that will include high-ranking government officials, cabinet ministers, celebrities and, of course, dozens of family members of people who've been kidnapped by North Korea, including the Yokota family. We'll try to do our best and keep you updated on how things are going. In the meantime, be sure to tell anyone you know about the Atlanta screenings:

ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL
Atlanta, GA
Sunday, June 11, 7pm
Monday, June 12, 3pm
Landmark Midtown Art
www.atlantafilmfestival.com

Friday, June 09, 2006

ABDUCTION IN NEW ZEALAND!

The New Zealand Film Festival has accepted ABDUCTION for its 2006 documentary program. The film will be playing in Auckland and Wellington in July and August. We'll give more details as the dates approach.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

ABDUCTION COMING TO TOKYO!

ABDUCTION FILM COMING TO TOKYO
FAMILIES/GOVERNMENT GET PRIVATE SCREENING


For Immediate Release
06/07/06


Washington, DC An award-winning film that’s made headlines in Japan and captured the attention of audiences and critics across North America will make its debut in Tokyo this month. “ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story” will be screened for the
Yokota family and other families of people kidnapped by North Korea, government officials, and the Japanese media on June 27th in the prestigious Tokyo FM Hall. The highly-anticipated event will be the first time the film has been shown in Japan.
“We’ve had an overwhelming demand from the Japanese public and the Japanese government to show this film in Tokyo,” said Chris Sheridan, who, with his wife Patty Kim, directed and produced the film. “The Japanese government and media are very eager to see this film shown in Japan and we decided we needed to bring it to them.”
The film documents the story of Megumi Yokota, a 13-year-old Japanese girl kidnapped by North Korean spies. The feature-length documentary follows her parents’ 30-year struggle to bring her home.
The film’s premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah caused a media sensation, drawing nearly every major Japanese newspaper, TV and radio station to flock to its opening, overwhelming festival organizers. It also garnered excellent reviews from Variety and the Los Angeles Times, both of which praised the film. “ABDUCTION” went on to win the festival’s prestigious Audience Award for Best Documentary and has received critical praise from every reviewer to date. It has won three more awards since Slamdance and screened to sold out audiences across the country. The film continues to travel across North America and will make its Australian debut on June 17, at the
State Theatre (a 2,000 seat venue), as part of the Sydney Film Festival, the largest film event in the country.
This month’s event will be the first time that the main subjects, the Yokota family, along with other families, watch “ABDUCTION”. Sheridan and Kim will travel to Tokyo to attend the private invitation-only screening. At the moment, the June 27th event is the only scheduled screening of the film. “ABDUCTION” is not yet available to the general public.
Jane Campion, the Oscar-winning director of “The Piano”, is the film’s Executive Producer.
“ABDUCTION” is produced in association with the BBC, with the assistance of Fuji TV.

For media inquiries in the US, please contact Yuko Kawabe at safarimedia@yahoo.com
For media inquiries in Tokyo, please contact Kazoku-Kai.
For more information on the film, see www.safarimedia.net

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ABDUCTION COMING TO SYDNEY!

FROM THE SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL WEBSITE:


Jane Campion Documentary Confirmed for the Festival
May 11, 2006

Following the exciting news that the directors of ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story will be interviewed on CNN’s American Morning at 11pm Sydney time today, it is announced today that the award-winning documentary ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story, executive produced by Oscar-winning director Jane Campion, is confirmed as part of the 53rd Sydney Film Festival.

Lynden Barber, Artistic Director of Sydney Film Festival comments “ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story is one of the most moving documentaries I have seen in recent years. We are honoured to be able to bring this amazing story to Sydney audiences in June.”

The directors Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim will be on the CNN’s American Morning at 11pm (Sydney time) to talk about the documentary, which documents the true story of a 13-year-old Japanese girl kidnapped by North Korean spies.

“We’re hoping the CNN interview will help open up the discussion in America about the abduction issue,” said director, Chris Sheridan. “Many Americans have never heard about the abductions but now we’ve been given a huge opportunity to tell it to hundreds of thousands of them.”

Sydney Film Festival is thrilled to announce that Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim are also confirmed as guests of the festival and will be present, along with Executive Producer Jane Campion at the screenings on June 17 and 18 2006 in Sydney.

ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story follows the family of Megumi Yokota, who disappeared on her way home from school in 1977. For decades, her parents had no idea what had happened to her until the whole world found out the shocking truth. During a historic meeting between Japan and North Korea, the North Koreans admitted their spies kidnapped Megumi and 12 others. But the story doesn’t end there. ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story is a moving portrayal of what parents will do for their child as Megumi’s family fight every imaginable force to bring her home.

The CNN interview follows hearings on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C, by a Japanese delegation regarding the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. Among those testifying is Sakie Yokota, Megumi’s mother.
Celebrating its 53rd year, Sydney Film Festival will showcase the world’s best feature films, documentary, short fiction, short animation and more at its major annual event which runs from June 9 – June 25 2006. The Festival’s full program will be launched on May 11 and available in The Sydney Morning Herald as an insert on May 15.
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