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Saga of descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil
This, the second Brazilian "Gaijin" film, now appears 25 years after the first drama. It shares a lot of common ground with the earlier film, including the same director, and a couple of the same characters; one Nipo-Brazilian is played by the same actor as in the 1980 Film. It's also another saga about the descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil, who now face the same difficulties as all Brazilians, the difficulties resulting from the country's history.
Within Brazil's history, the Japanese immigration is among the most remarkable, and unusual highlights; amazing not only as the sole massive Japanese immigration movement, but emerging as Brazil's most successful group of immigrants, all the more surprising for being the most unlikely of any other immigrant or ethnic group, originally having absolutely no tie whatsoever to any other group, and thus facing the worse hardships of any group since the African slaves.
This new film recently won top prizes, including best film, director, and supporting actress, at Brazil's most traditional and prestigious film "event": the Gramado Festival. The critics in Brazil have nevertheless not been nearly as kind, and have pretty much denounced the film, mostly for its plot holes. The public here has been less than receptive. The film lasted only two weeks at Sao Paulo's most prestigious and popular "arteplex" which is also located in the heart of the city and close to old and new Braz-Japanese neighborhoods.
In its third week of commercial exhibition, the film is now playing at a second run cinema, where I just saw it, though it is still playing at a few shopping centers. I can't help but think if this film doesn't make it here, where would it make it? I saw it nevertheless, and was pleasantly surprised. It is a bit too long, and the plot is indeed full of holes, but overall it's worth seeing. Particularly for the excellent mixed cast, including the Cuban Jorge Perugorria and the American Tamlyn Tomita in two of the main roles, blending into a mix of some of the most famous veteran Brazilian actors, and local teenage heartthrobs now, like Dado Dolabella, and Mariana Ximenes - two current huge soap opera idols.
If that says nothing to you (and it won't to most of the world), maybe the unusual and true Japanese-Brazilian story line, and the plot will. This is what happens during 131 minutes in a nut shell. In 1908, Titoe, a Japanese woman comes to Brazil intent on making some money here, then eventually return to Japan. But in 1935, with her Brazil born daughter Shinobu, and with insufficient means to return to Japan, Titoe decides to buy her first plot of land in Londrina, an agricultural area (now a big city) where many Japanese were put to work in Brazil.
The 2nd World War and its consequences put Titoe's plans to return "home" on endless hold. Titoe not only bore her daughter Shinobu in this new land, but Shinobu has given her mother more reasons to postpone her dream - two grandchildren: Kazumi and Maria, Both are second generation Brazilians, confirming the definition of "home" as arguable at best.
The East-West conflicts of course predominate. But they are somewhat different from the usual clichés. The back-lands of Brazil in the mid 20th Century are NOT the "West" portrayed in similarly themed films. Herein lie many differences, and the main reason why you will probably either become involved in this film's story, or terribly bored.
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