THE WITCHES OF THE ORIENT (2021)
2021 | Dir Julien Faraut | 100 mins | France
‘The Witches of the Orient’ are former players of the Japanese women’s volleyball team, named so because of their seemingly supernatural powers on the courts. Now in their 70s, Julien Faraut’s gripping and playful documentary tells the story of this legendary squad, who, inspiring legions of fans and a whole cult genre of manga comics and anime shows, have left a unique sporting and cultural legacy.
Featuring striking 16mm colour reels of the team in training, together with previously unseen archive footage produced by the Japanese Olympic Committee in 1964, alongside a montage of vintage manga and TV material, Faraut’s compelling film also brings together contemporary interviews with four of the original ‘witches’. It charts the formation of the unstoppable all-female squad in the late 1950s as a worker’s team at a textile factory in Post-War Osaka, who, with their notorious coach Hirobumi Daimatsu, trained through the night, rising to become world champions in 1962, before their sensational triumph at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
English, French and Japanese with English subtitles.
“The final Olympics sequence keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, despite us knowing the outcome”. Phuong Le in The Guardian
Distributor: Modern Films – No account required.
Film run ends on Friday 10 September 2021.