Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Hi everyone...

Here are the details for the Hollywood screenings. We'll be at the first four shows. Come say hi if you're there.

ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story
ArcLight Cinemas
Hollywood, CA
tickets: 1-323-464-4226

Friday, August 18, 1:30pm
Saturday, August 19, 3:15pm
Sunday, August, 20, 5:30pm
Monday, August, 21, 8pm
Tuesday, August, 22, 10:15pm
Wednesday, August 23, 10am
Thursday, August 24, 11:45am

Friday, July 14, 2006


Hi folks,

The film's screening in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand over the next three weeks. Here are the details and an article on the film published in a national newspaper...

Auckland, New Zealand
Academy Cinemas
July 16, noon
July 22, 2:30pm

Wellington, New Zealand
Te Papa Theatre
July 29, 11:45am
August 6, 11:30am.


Abduction doco to screen at fest
15 July 2006

A Japanese teenager was abducted by North Korean spies when walking home from school in 1977. Jennifer Colwill talks to the directors of the documentary Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story screening at the New Zealand Film Festival.

In the 1970s Japanese citizens, including 13-year-old Megumi Yokota, were abducted to North Korea to help train spies during the Cold War.

American husband and wife filmmakers Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim have created a chilling documentary piecing together Megumi's disappearance and her parents' subsequent 30-year search.

Sheridan first heard about the abductions when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made his first ever visit to North Korea in 2002, to find out what had happened to the abductees.

Kim is of Korean heritage, so is "interested in things that go on in that part of the world", but that is not why the couple is drawn to the story.

She said it was an incredible espionage tale, wrapped around a love story.

"It's the personal tragedy being played out against the very large, dramatic political landscape."

Megumi was big sister to twin brothers. Her mother was a housewife, her father a banker.

"These people were just like you and me and that especially comes through when you look at their family photos and see them on vacation and at the beach ... and go `that could have been my family'," Kim said.

Megumi's parents are still ordinary people, but they have a different profile now as they took their campaign to the streets of Japan in search of answers to Megumi's disappearance.

They have become household names in Japan.

"They didn't want to, but were forced to because of the incredible situation they had been thrust into," Kim said.

It was many years before they discovered the truth: Megumi had been snatched by North Korean spies, taken to their country by boat, scratching off her fingernails in an attempt to escape.

About 75 percent of the film is from Kim and Sheridan's exclusive footage, and 25 percent is from archives.

The couple made three visits to Japan and used a Japanese interpreter to interview subjects.

Neither Kim nor Sheridan speaks Japanese and there were some barriers to filming the Yokotas in their home.

"The thing about Japanese society is that it's very closed, it's very conservative and private life is not something they particularly enjoy showing to the rest of the world, or their colleagues or friends," Sheridan said.

"We had to slowly and very politely coax them into allowing us to show them as real people. In Japan, they are so well known that they have press conferences and events all the time, so they're always in public, so that's the easy stuff. The difficult stuff was allowing these foreigners to come and peek into their lives, behind the curtain."

The film also trails the fate and families of other abductees who were snatched from Japanese beaches and streets.

The directors chose not to have an English narrator because they wanted the characters to tell their own stories.

Sheridan believes the abductions are not widely known outside of Japan.

"We present it to audiences like this is the first time people are going to hear about this."

Whenever an audience hears the story, it is positive for the families, who want their plights known outside of Japan, he said.

Kim said their goal was to tell a compelling human story, but also to enlighten people.

"In a nutshell this issue has gotten so big in Japan that the Japanese decided `hey, we need to resolve this and we need to get some answers about the fates of these people who were abducted'," she said.

"So every time those big powerful nations, Russia, China, South Korea, United States, get together and talk to North Korea and try to convince North Korea to drop their nuclear weapons programme, Japan uses that opportunity to say ... `don't you owe us some answers about our abducted people?' That puts North Korea in a bad mood and stalls nuclear talks.

"That affects the discussions that everybody is having, then North Korea continues on its merry way."

The story is particularly timely, with North Korea featuring heavily in the news media after it fired long-range missiles last week.

The directors said the story would ultimately affect New Zealand because of its status as an international player.

The most important thing people could do, if they wanted to help, was to raise awareness, Kim said.

"I think that public knowledge of this story has to come first."

Megumi's parents demonstrated this with their lives, she said.

"Nothing happened until they took it out onto the streets ... until they were blue in the face ... and that grassroots demonstration finally got the attention of the rest of the nation, which then forced the government to act."

New Zealander Jane Campion, best known for directing The Piano which won three Academy Awards, is the film's executive producer.

Kim met Campion about 15 years ago and they kept in touch.

When the couple's documentary developed and they wanted some guidance, they called Campion.

"We showed her a teeny, teeny bit of footage and the little she saw, she fell in love with," Kim said.

They showed her more snippets and eventually she took on the role as executive producer, based in Sydney, while the couple edited the film in Washington.

"Jane is obviously a tremendous filmmaker in her own right but she made an excellent executive producer. She was able to see the story very, very clearly and she has a very light touch."

Kim said she felt very grateful because Campion was often approached by other filmmakers and it was rare for her to get involved with other people's projects.

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story screens in Auckland, Academy Cinemas, July 16, noon; July 22, 2.30pm; and in Wellington, Te Papa, July 29, 11.45am; August 6, 11.30am.

Thursday, July 13, 2006






Washington, DC A film that tells the powerful true story of a Japanese girl kidnapped by North Korean spies will be released in theatres next month, starting in Hollywood, California. “ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story”, directed by the husband/wife team of Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim, will begin its theatrical run at the ArcLight Cinemas and will play for one week from August 18-24. The opening in Hollywood is part of a campaign to help the film qualify for an Academy Award.
“This is great not just for the film but for the families whom this story is based on,” said Sheridan. “Hopefully, the Hollywood screenings will bring even more attention to the families and the abduction issue itself.”
“ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story” is a documentary about 13-year-old Megumi who was abducted from Japan and taken to North Korea. Using rarely-seen archival footage and incredible access to her family, the filmmakers bring to life the riveting story of her parents’ 30-year struggle to bring her home.
The film opened at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January and went on to win the Audience Award for Best Documentary. It has since gone on to win other top honors as well as win over audiences who’ve packed theatres to see it across the US, Canada and Australia. Critics across the board have praised ‘ABDUCTION” calling it, “Exceptional!” (Variety), “Gut-wrenching!” (Sydney Morning Herald) and “Engrossing!” (San Francisco Chronicle).
The Hollywood Premiere in August will be part of the International Documentary Association’s “DocuWeek” program which highlights some of the best documentaries from this year. The program helps those films qualify for Academy Award consideration.
The Executive Producer of “ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story” is Jane Campion, the Oscar-winning director of “The Piano”.
The film is produced in association with the BBC.

For more info, go to www.abductionfilm.com
For media inquiries, contact Yuko Kawabe at kawabe3jp@yahoo.co.jp
For more info on DocuWeek, go to www.documentary.org

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Go to this site for some photos from our Tokyo screening...



June 28, 2006


MANN (voice-over): For decades, Megumi Yokota's parents hoped someone would pay attention to their daughter's disappearance. Now the case has gotten nationwide attention in Japan and is even the subject of a new documentary by two American filmmakers.

"I am extremely grateful that this move has been made," Sakie Yokota said. "It's of great importance that people come to the realization that such a thing has actually happened."


(on camera): Welcome back.

Even after Kim Young-nam was reunited with his family, he said nothing publicly about Megumi Yokota, the mother of his child. He is expected to hold a news conference Thursday, but in the meantime there is no further word on her fate.

We got in touch with the filmmakers, Patty Kim and Christopher Sheridan, to talk about the movie, "Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story."


PATTY KIM, FILMMAKER: When we first heard about the story a few years ago, back in 2002, I was sitting at my desk. I was a correspondent for "National Geographic" and one day I happened to pick up the paper and read this really incredible story about the fact that the Japanese prime minister had gone to North Korea for the first time and North Korea had admitted at that meeting that its secret agents had abducted Japanese citizens back in the '70s and '80s. And I just thought, oh, my gosh, this is just such a remarkable story. We were totally hooked, right from the start.

MANN: And how do you make a movie about someone who has disappeared?

CHRISTOPHER SHERIDAN, FILMMAKER: Well, that's a good question. I mean, obviously, the main character in our film doesn't actually appear in the film, but you definitely get a sense of who she is and what kind of personality she has.

I think largely through the people, her family, the people who are living in Japan and can talk about who she is and what she was like when she was living with them. So I think that that really helps. That's what this story is about, is about the attempt to try to bring her home and just bring in this person very much alive.

MANN: How much detective work were you able to do? Or were you just hitting a stonewall in your own attempt to figure out what happened to her?

SHERIDAN: Well, I think the main goal we had was not to actually do an investigative or political or historical work. Our goal was to actually create something that was more of a narrative, a classic narrative, and do a story that people could easily understand.

A lot of what we tell in this film is very well known. It's public information. It's not stuff that we had to dig up. It wasn't difficult for us to divulge.

I think the most revealing parts of the film were actually the intimate, private things that we got from Megumi's family and from some of the other people who have had their relatives abducted.

So I think a lot of the film is more an expose of what this family has been through for the last 30 years as opposed to exposing sort of the investigative side of things.

MANN: It's inconceivable, I mean, it's hard to imagine what they have been through. How would you describe the process they went through from the day she disappeared, say, until today, when they have an official account that they don't entirely trust?

SHERIDAN: It's absolutely unbelievable, and the most common reaction we get in the United States, and not just in the United States, in Australia and Canada and other places where we've shown it, even here in Japan, is how come I didn't known this story? How can this happen and we don't know about it? That's what many people say to us.

And it's one of those stories, as Patty mentioned earlier, that if you took this to a Hollywood producer, they wouldn't believe you. They couldn't believe that this could possibly happen in real life, but it really did.

KIM: We've had mothers come up to us after screenings and say to us, you know, I can imagine no greater angst than having my child simply disappear one day out of the blue with no explanation. And to think that that's exactly what happened to these people, but it didn't last for one year or two years or three years. It lasted for two decades, this sense of open, unending anguish. They had no closure at all. They had no clue what had happened to their child.

And I think that people can relate to it on a very every day level. You know, sometimes you're shopping in the supermarket, you've got your kid with you, and your kid just happens to walk down, you know, the next aisle over and you use them for half a second, and you just get that momentary oh, my God, where did he go. And imagine that multiplied, you know, to the umpteenth.

And, you know, I just think that their grief and their loss is something so tremendous and so deep that most of us can't understand that part of it, but we can identify with them and their journey to sort of find out the truth and heal.

MANN: You put it very well, and you express it in very personal terms, but could you say the same things in bigger political terms? This is half of the Korean Peninsula that was essentially grabbed and taken hostage by this strange, brutal and secretive regime.

SHERIDAN: Well, there is no issue that this has become the biggest political issue in Japan, for sure. And certainly one of the biggest political issues in Asia. It's a major stumbling block to getting North Korea to come to the negotiating table for, you know, to talk about its nuclear weapons program or alleged nuclear weapons program.

It's a problem that many people don't know about but are affected by. And what I mean by that is even though in the United States and other countries we don't hear about this issue so much, it's the one thing that can really put North Korea in a bad mood very quickly.

And, yeah, we did do a very personal story. We did the story about what happened to a simple Japanese family in November of 1977, but this has become a major international crisis and it could lead to bigger and worse things if it is not resolved in a good amount of time.

MANN: Let me ask you more about that, because the families involved feel that their personal problem has become political in the sense that they're not getting enough support from their government, whether in Japan or South Korea. They feel, many of them, because it politicizes the situation so much and they just want their loved ones back.

As you were following this one particular case, did you get a sense that the government of Japan was really doing all it could for the family?

KIM: I think that there was, in the early years, when this family, Megumi Yokota's mother and father, first found out that there was a possibility that their daughter had been abducted by spies and abducted to North Korea, when they approached the Japanese government, I think early on the Japanese government was definitely giving them very cool kind of response, the cold shoulder, if you will. And for many years after that not much was done.

But now things have definitely changed and this ordinary couple, this banker and this housewife, have transformed public opinion in Japan. They've raised their story to such an awareness, you know, that it forced the government to take action, and now the government basically is working side by side with these families, it seems, to try to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

So things have really taken a turn, and it's all because ordinary mothers and fathers step forward, stood out on the streets, handed out pamphlets and said my son or my daughter has been snatched away by secret agents of a foreign country, please help me out. And from that grassroots movement, awareness grew. So it's quite amazing.

SHERIDAN: And many people feel the current prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has not done enough, even though he has done a lot to try to make peace with North Korea to a certain extent and to try to do more for these families. But the next person who they believe will step in as prime minister, his name is Mr. Shinzo Abe, has a lot of support from the families and many families believe that he is going to push this issue even further with the North Koreans.

MANN: Patty Kim, Christopher Sheridan, thank you so much for talking with us.

SHERIDAN: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

KIM: Thanks, Jonathan.