|New Docs Japan|
The Ants(“Ari no heitai”)
- JAPAN / 2005 / Japanese, Chinese / Color / 35mm (1:1.85) / 101 min / Subtitled in Japanese and English
Director: Ikeya Kaoru
Photography: Fukui Masaharu, Toyama Taizo
Editing: Tayama Koichi
Sound: Takatsu Yusuke
Music: Uchiike Hidekazu
Sound Effects: Suzuki Toshiyuki
Coordinators: Liu Qingyun, Otani Ryuji
Producer: Gon Yoko
Production Company, World Sales: Ren Universe
A secret pact between Chinese and Japanese military commanders after the end of World War II led to 2600 Japanese troops’ being forced to remain in China to continue fighting in the civil conflict. Once back in Japan after enduring long years in POW camps, the survivors were considered deserters by the government and treated with disregard. One of the former soldiers, 80-year-old Okumura Waichi, tenaciously pressures the government to acknowledge responsibility for this unprecedented act of “selling” soldiers. A hugely popular film that broke theater records.
[Director’s Statement] The protagonist of a film needs a little “craziness.” Okuzaki Kenzo in The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On has the kind of “craziness” that wipes out everything. But Okumura Waichi’s “craziness” is different. One day, after visiting the place where he bayoneted an innocent Chinese man to death, he slipped back into being an Imperial soldier. . . . In this figure I saw a “quiet craziness” that forms a counterpart to the tenacity with which he seeks the truth.
Born in 1958, Ikeya started his career as a director of TV documentaries after graduating from Doshisha University. He has produced numerous programs focusing largely on China since the Tiananmen Square protest. Ikeya founded the production company Ren Universe in 1997. Daughter from Yan’an, his first feature documentary (2002; screened at YIDFF 2003), has been critically acclaimed worldwide.