UK / 2000 / Japanese / Color / 35mm (1:1.85) / 106 min
Directors: Kim Longinotto, Jano Williams
Photography, Producer: Kim Longinotto
Editing: Brian Tagg
Sound: Mary Milton
Music: GAEA JAPAN
Production Company, Source: Vixen Films
13 Aubert Park, London, N5 1TL UK
Irresistibly drawn by the charisma of female pro-wrestler Nagayo Chigusa, Takeuchi Saika knocks on the door of wrestling organization GAEA JAPAN. Marked by a spartan daily routine, harsh training and strict senior/junior relations, the lives of these women are far removed from those of other teenage girls. Some don’t make it, but others with dreams of glory in the square ring endure the strenuous regimen. This film swirls with the anxiety and excitement of newcomer Takeuchi Saika as she battles desperately to progress from pro-test to professional debut.
[Directors Statement] Perhaps you’ll have the same mix of emotions when you watch this film as we had when we were making it. We were gripped by the stories as they developed and we were both inspired and horrified by Takeuchi’s determination to make her debut in the ring no matter what. During the filming we found ourselves thinking about ambition, power, and courage. They were played out so graphically in front of us. Perhaps we are also witnessing the end of a time in Japan when young women are prepared to make such great sacrifices on every level in order to realize their dreams. Above all, we feel enormous affection and respect for these “Gaea girls.”
Studied camera and directing at the National Film School. While in film school, made Pride of Place, a critical look at her boarding school. After graduation, made Cross and Passion and Underage before collaborating with Clare Hunt on Fireraiser. Worked with Hunt again on Eat the Kimono about Hanayagi Genshu, a Japanese dancer and activist, and The Good Wife of Tokyo about women in Japan. Subsequent works include Dream Girls with Jano Williams about Japan’s Takarazuka theatre revue and Shinjuku Boys about biological women in Tokyo who choose to live as men. Divorce Iranian Style, co-directed with anthropologist Ziba Mir-Hosseini, screened in the International Competition at YIDFF ’99.
Went to Japan in 1974. First worked at the Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK, where she made radio programs about the individuals and structures that make up Japanese society, then moved to Nippon Television. Returned to England only to meet Kim Longinotto and go back to Japan to make Eat the Kimono, Dream Girls and Shinjuku Boys.
• International Competition | Angelos’ Film | A2 | Buenaventura Durruti, Anarchist | Crazy | Days in Those Mountains | La Devinière | Gaea Girls | Grandma’s Hairpin | In Vanda’s Room | The Land of the Wandering Souls | Mysterious Object at Noon | Paragraph 175 | Private Chronicles. Monologue | 6 Easy Pieces | Southern Comfort • Jurors | Hartmut Bitomsky | Bernard Eisenschitz | Ann Hui | Kuroki Kazuo | Ivars Seleckis