Thursday, January 11, 2007


(l-r) Henry Kissinger, Patty Kim, Chris Sheridan

Hi all...Sorry I didn't write sooner. It's been a little hectic. On Monday, we finally had our opening at the United Nations. The evening was well-organized and the Japanese Consul General and Japanese Mission to the United Nations did a good job at getting the word out about the film. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's National Security advisor and sometimes advisor to President Bush, showed up and was genuinely interested in the subject of the abductions. The media was all over him and, as with other screenings, it made the nightly news in Japan. He was very curious about the film and wanted to know a lot more about the abductions of Japanese people. It was a pleasure to have got the chance to share the story with him. So far, the New York press has been pretty good on the film. Below is a small sampling of some of the reviews leading up to Friday's opening. Remember, if you know anyone in the neighborhood, tell them it opens at Cinema Village on Friday, January 12th (22 E. 12th Street at 2nd Avenue). Screenings daily at 1,3,5,7 and 9:10pm. That's all for now. More later.



When a 13-year-old girl named Megumi Yokota disappeared in 1977, her Japanese family and neighbors frantically searched for her, to no avail. This fascinating documentary by Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim reveals that Yokota was just one of many Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Koreans and used to train Kim Jong Il’s Japanese-speaking spies. Through interviews with surviving family members, journalists, and a North Korean defector, this film narrates the emotional tragedy of the Yokota family’s three-decade nightmare and reveals an underreported story shaping East Asian politics.


3 out of 4 STARS

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story
Cast: Sakie Yokota and Shigeru Yokota
Directed by: Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim
Screenplay by: Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim
Distributor: Safari Media
Runtime: 85 min
Rating: NR
Year: 2006

ith its puzzling missing person's story and ominous aesthetic comprised of interviews, dramatic recreations, and ghostly still photographs, Patty Kim and Chris Sheridan's Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story initially seems like an expanded episode of Unsolved Mysteries. That alone wouldn't be a bad thing, as NBC's creepy 1980s serial was always meatier than its exploitative premise suggested. Yet Kim and Sheridan's doc eventually proves itself to be a more intricate and chilling work of real-crime nonfiction than its TV forerunner, recounting its decades-spanning case with equal measures of wrenching suspense, outrage, and empathy. In November 1977, 13-year-old Japanese girl Megumi Yokota went missing on her way home from school, a disappearance that devastated her devoted parents and remained largely unanswered until, 20 years later, the astonishing truth came to light: Megumi, as well as at least 12 others (and likely many more), had been kidnapped by North Korean spies, who used their foreign captives as tools to learn how to pass themselves off as authentic Japanese. What ensued was a vigorous battle by the victims' families to motivate Prime Minister Koizumi to retrieve their loved ones, an endeavor rife with implications both global (regarding North Korea's famine crisis and negotiations over their nuclear weapons program) and intensely personal. Sheridan and Kim wring a good deal of tension from their headline-making tale as reporters and government investigators attempt to uncover North Korea's dastardly plot, though their film's lasting impact comes from its compassionate portrait of parental devotion. A kind duo driven to discover the truth about their missing child through organized protest and political pressure, Megumi's mom Sakie and dad Shigeru are repeatedly offered, and then denied, any substantial amount of closure, a frustration heartbreakingly conveyed via Sakie's dream for Megumi—in which the girl would return home to Japan and feel "liberated" and "free" from confinement—that stands as a surrogate wish for herself. Abduction pushes its poignant buttons while casting Megumi's kidnapping as a heinous crime, yet to its credit, it consistently does so with a deftly understated, devastating touch, as when the recorded sound of Megumi delivering a choral solo gives fleeting voice to a girl whose silence (not unlike that of Kim Jong Il) hangs heavy over the still-unresolved proceedings.


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