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Former Kamikaze Pilots and Attack Survivor Attend Japan Society's NY Premeire Documentary Screening

 

Wings of Defeat (2007)

Tuesday March 18, 2008: 7:30 pm Reception, 8:00 pm Screening

New York, NY -- Japan Society presents the New York premiere screening of Wings of Defeat, a groundbreaking feature-length documentary about surviving Kamikaze pilots. Presented on Tuesday, March 18 at 8:00 pm, the film is preceded by reception with the filmmakers at 7:30 pm and followed by a Q&A and discussion. In addition to director/producer Risa Morimoto and writer/producer Linda Hoaglund, special guests include two former Kamikaze pilots featured in the film, Takehiko Ena (age 84) and Takeo Ueshima (85); and Fred Mitchell (83), a U.S. Navy veteran interviewed in the film about how he survived a Kamikaze attack on his ship, the U.S.S. Drexler in the spring of 1945. In 2007, Wings of Defeat was theatrically released in Japan and was an official selection of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. The film is in English and Japanese with English subtitles.

Wings Of Defeat (Tokko)
Tuesday, March 18; 7:30 pm Reception, 8 pm Screening
2007, 89 min, digital video, color and black & white. Directed and produced by Risa Morimoto. Produced and written by Linda Hoaglund. New York Premiere.

In Japan, WWII Kamikaze pilots are revered for their selfless sacrifice. Internationally, Kamikaze remain a potent metaphor of fanaticism--but few know that hundreds of Kamikaze pilots survived the war. After learning that her own uncle was one of the Kamikaze survivors, director Risa Morimoto traveled through Japan to interview surviving Kamikaze (including Takehiko Ena and Takeo Ueshima) uncovering candid, heartbreaking testimonies that convey the horrors of the cockpit, the Kamikaze's dramatic survival and the guilt that continues to haunt them.

About Risa Morimoto

Risa Morimoto (producer/director) produced the feature film, The LaMastas in 1998. Since then she has produced, written and directed for film and television. Risa produced the award-winning program Cinema AZN, a half-hour show on Asian film. President of Edgewood Pictures Inc., a motion picture production company, Risa graduated with a Masters in film and education from New York University in 1999 where she served as the Associate Director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute. From 2002-2006, she served as Executive Director of Asian CineVision, a non-profit media arts organization. A second-generation Japanese American, Risa studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.

About Linda Hoaglund
Linda Hoaglund (producer/writer) served as senior film curator (June 2005 - May 2006) and film advisor (June 2006 - July 2007) for Japan Society. Born and raised in Japan, the daughter of American missionary parents, she attended Japanese public schools. A graduate of Yale University, after working as a bilingual news producer for Japanese television, she joined an independent American film production company as a producer. Since 1996, she has subtitled 150 Japanese films. She represents Japanese directors and artists and serves as an international liaison for producers. In 2004, she received a commendation from the Foreign Minister of Japan for her work promoting Japanese film abroad.

About Takehiko Ena
Born on July 29, 1923, Takehiko Ena was drafted, along with thousands of other college students into Navy Officer Training School, in December, 1943, while attending university. He was assigned to the Special Attack Forces (Kamikaze Corps) in March, 1945. On April 28, he immediately crash-landed with engine failure after taking off on a Kamikaze Attack. On a second Kamikaze Attack in May, he crashed near a remote island where he survived until early August. On August 7, 1945, he wandered through post-atomic Hiroshima, attempting to return to his base. After the war, he joined a manufacturing company and visited the United States to import soybeans. Now retired, he continues to visit memorials to the thousands of Kamikaze who did not come home alive. In his words, “I feel a real urgency for human beings to create a way to resolve our conflicts other than through warfare. Unless we abolish war, I believe this planet is doomed.”

About Takeo Ueshima
Born on November 18, 1922, Takeo Ueshima was drafted into Navy Officer Training School in December 1943, while attending college. He was trained to become a pilot of a Torpedo plane and assigned to the Kamikaze Special Attacks Forces in March, 1945. From March until the war ended six months later, Mr. Ueshima dreaded final take-off orders, which never came. After the war, he studied English and started a company importing professional audio equipment from Europe. He is retired and enjoys traveling on cruise ships with his wife. When asked by an American Kamikaze attack survivor why they were so eager to die attacking American ships, Mr. Ueshima stated: “We were not volunteers. On every Navy base the commander simply said, ‘I want you to die.”

About Fred Mitchell

Fred Mitchell volunteered for the U.S. Navy in 1942, in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was 17 years old and needed parental permission. Serving on the U.S.S. Drexler in the spring of 1945, he miraculously survived when his ship was attacked by two Kamikaze planes and sank in less than 60 seconds. For six decades, he has lived with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, often reliving the traumatic attack in his dreams. After viewing the completed film, Mitchell and another attack survivor asked to meet the former Kamikaze. They traveled to Japan in the summer of 2007 with the filmmakers for the film’s theatrical release. The former enemies were able to achieve genuine and transformative reconciliation. Mitchell believes that meeting the former Kamikaze in Japan allowed him to set aside the lingering hatred he felt for the men who killed his shipmates and achieve a sense of peace that he always longed for.

About Japan Society's Film Program
Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. The Film Program has included retrospectives of seminal directors, thematic series and special screenings of international, U.S. and NY premieres. Several original film series curated by Japan Society have traveled to other U.S. venues in tours organized by the Film Program.

From its first film screening in 1922 (a four-reel film of the crown prince's 1921 visit to Europe) to its first ever large-scale (now annual) film festival JAPAN CUTS in July 2007, Film Program highlights have also included, Kurosawa: A Retrospective (1981); A Tribute to Toshiro Mifune (1984); Anime: The History of Japanese Animated Films (1999); Critic’s Choice: Susan Sontag on Japanese Film, Parts I & II (2003 and 2004), and the premiere screening of Drawing Restraint 9, hosted by visual artist Matthew Barney and collaborator Björk (2006). Most recently, the Film Program presented the international premiere of Shall We Dance? and director Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It (2007).The Film Program has provided English subtitles for films which have never been screened outside of Japan. Accompanying lectures help place the films in their aesthetic and social contexts, and filmmakers often introduce and discuss their work.

About Japan Society
Founded in 1907 by prominent New York City business people and philanthropists, Japan Society has evolved over 100 years into an internationally recognized nonprofit organization presenting a full range of programs within arts and culture, business, education, and public policy. Through over 100 events annually, the Society creates rich encounters and exchanges that offer opportunities to experience Japanese culture; foster sustained and open dialogue on issues important to the U.S., Japan, and East Asia; and improve access to information on Japan.

Japan Society celebrates the 100th Anniversary of its founding with Japan100: Celebrating a Century, an unprecedented array of high-profile programming in 2007-08. The celebration occurs throughout New York City and in Japan with further national and international exposure through traveling exhibitions, performing arts tours, symposia, fellowships, and exchanges. Visit www.japan100.org for more information.

Tickets & Information
The New York premiere screening of Wings of Defeat takes place Tuesday, March 18, 2008, with a 7:30pm pre-screening reception with filmmakers and special guests, to be followed by a 8:00 pm screening. Tickets are $10/$7 Japan Society members, students and seniors. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and V at Lexington Avenue and 53rd St.) For reservations or information, visit www.japansociety.org or call the box office at 212-715-1258.

The 2007-08 season of Japan Society’s Film Program is supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.

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For further information, images and screeners, please refer to:

Aya Akeura
Japan Society
T: 212-715-1292
F: (212) 715-1262
E: aakeura@japansociety.org

Kuniko Shiobara
Japan Society
T: 212-715-1249
F: (212) 715-1262
E: kshiobara@japansociety.org

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