Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Are You Afraid Of? (2015) Japan Cuts 2015

Eye opening look at women and Japanese society through the lives of several Japanese women who were among those fighting for equality and a better life from 1970 onward.

Intriguing companion piece to last years SHE'S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE'S ANGRY is the same story from a different part of the world. This is a film that;s all about the women who fought the cause. As director Hitsako Mitsu marches us through the last 35 yers we watch as the women simply tell their stories and what the fight meant to them.

I'm not going to lie this is not going to be a film for all audiences. The film is pretty much entirely talking heads inter cut with photographs and newspaper reprints. If you want motion look elsewhere-- on the other hand if you want to hear some great stories (including the story of spray painting the Mona Lisa) this film is for you. This is a film where the women who lived the tale tell it compellingly.

What I like about the film is that in bringing together so many voices Mitsu has fashioned a film that really is about the women's rights struggle in Japan and not just a few women. We get a wide variety of topics (love, sex, children, the right to work) and she manages to blend the abstract ideas with real life and with the complications of human nature-say when one of the women in the struggle falls in love with a man, has a baby and then finds out that he's a bum. Moments like this are small and perhaps obvious touches but at the same time they are handled so deftly that they add not only shading but a greater understanding.

I also have to congratulate Mitsu for having titles through our the film that explain what we are seeing. Early on there is a moment where the Red Army insanity is mentioned. Fleetingly I was going - "how was this going to play with people who don't know"-and then suddenly titles appeared.

This is a great film, but also a heady one. I know I didn't catch everything. Honestly I can't wait to see it again. Its a must see for anyone who wants to understand how we go to here.

The film plays at 630 today at The Japan Society. For tickets and more information go here.

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