China to screen new film about Japanese war orphans
China on Friday will premiere a new film that tells the hidden trauma and lasting love of Japanese war orphans and their foster Chinese parents.
"Tracing Her Shadow" revolves around an old Chinese woman who visited Japan to find her missing Japanese daughter she adopted after World War II, aided in her quest by a second-generation war orphan and a retired Japanese police officer.
The Chinese-Japanese co-production brings together filmmakers and actors from both countries, including renowned directors Jia Zhangke and Naomi Kawase who acted as the film's producers.
The film's director and screenwriter Peng Fei said the film is a tribute to the humanitarian acts of the Chinese parents who raised the Japanese children like their own after the Japanese retreat.
"They are great parents, and their stories should not be forgotten," he said at an advanced screening in Beijing.
More than 4,000 Japanese orphans, mostly offsprings of civilians sent to northeast China to colonize the conquered lands, were left in China after the Japanese surrender and frantic retreat in 1945. Adopted by Chinese families, most of them returned to Japan in the 1970s and the 1980s after the two countries resumed diplomatic ties.
In Peng's movie, the Chinese mother discovered the inconvenient truth that her daughter's new life in Japan was not so blissful as depicted in her reassuring letters. Unfamiliar with the Japanese language and culture, the daughter, like other war orphans, had difficulties finding a job and was treated as a "foreigner" in her homeland.
The director said his team spent eight months in Japan visiting families of the returned orphans.
"Imagine a typical Japanese building on a typical Japanese street, and upon entrance, we heard the sounds of a Chinese TV drama," he said.