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Film on Taiwanese comfort women to hit local cinemas

Film on Taiwanese comfort women to hit local cinemas

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) A Taiwanese documentary chronicling the later years of Taiwanese women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese forces during World War II will soon hit cinemas around Taiwan to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. "Song of the Reed," a 76-minute documentary, was produced by the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation and directed by Wu Hsiu-ching (???), an assistant professor at National Taiwan University of Arts. It documents how some of the "comfort women" in Taiwan overcame grave physical and mental trauma and developed their attitudes toward life over the years, the foundation said, adding that the film focuses on the women attending various workshops organized by the foundation. "The documentary portrays the strength of life and courage (demonstrated by the women)," said Kang Shu-hua (???), executive director of the foundation, at a news conference Tuesday just before a screening of the documentary in Taipei. It will hit cinemas in Taipei, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung Aug. 14. "It is meaningful" that the film's screening comes in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kang said. The film follows six Taiwanese women who have openly spoken of their suffering at the hands of the Japanese, but four of them have died since the completion of filming in 2013, the foundation said. Looking back at the three years of filming the women, who were mostly in their 80s, Wu said that the process was full of challenges. The film crew had to develop relations with "A-ma" (a word meaning grandma in Taiwanese dialect), Wu said, adding that it took them a while to overcome the difficulties. But "our hearts finally won a real friendship with A-ma," she added. "The documentary records true stories," Wu said, calling on young people to watch the film "to know more about what happened on our home soil." Tuesday's news conference was also attended by Yoko Shiba, a member of a Japanese advocacy group for comfort women issues. Having met with several Taiwanese comfort women over the years, she said, she was very touched by the documentary and greatly misses the comfort women who have passed away. A granddaughter of one of the comfort women featured in the documentary also attended the event, recalling her grandmother, who passed away in June 2013, as a very optimistic person. Since its completion in 2013, the film has been screened in five special showings around Taiwan, the foundation said, adding that it has also been shown in New York, Tokyo and Kyoto. Last year, it also won the Best Anthropology Concern Award at the International Gold Panda Awards for Documentary in Chengdu, China. "Song of the Reed" is the second film on comfort women produced by the foundation. More than 2,000 Taiwanese women and many more across Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, according to the foundation. The issue is still a point of contention today between countries in the region -- particularly South Korea and China -- and Japan. Over the past two decades, the foundation has been dedicated to helping the comfort women cope with their mental anguish and seek compensation from Japan. It has launched many initiatives in this regard, including documentaries, art exhibitions and counseling workshops. Despite the foundation's repeated calls for an apology and compensation for the comfort women in protests held every year, Japan has never given them a positive response. With the assistance of the foundation, a group of Taiwanese comfort women filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 1999, which they lost in 2005. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-21 15:59 GMT+08:00