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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Movies
Twenty Two
    2017-August-18  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Starring: Mao Yinmei, He Yuzhen, Wei Shaolan, Li Fengyun, Zhang Xiantu, Li Xiumei, Zhao Lanying, Liu Gailian Director: Guo Ke

ONE of the most sensitive topics in regional Far East Asian politics these days, Japan’s use of “comfort women” during World War II is a constant talking point on the news. Among the more sobering and least sentimental treatments of the subject to come about in the last few years, Guo Ke’s Chinese documentary “Twenty Two” (which was co-produced with South Korea) sought out the 22 remaining “comfort women” in China, the last survivors of a group that numbered some 200,000 at its peak during World War II.

Though handsomely shot and poignant at times, Guo’s work is also marred by a certain amount of lethargy. Some of the atrocities recounted by the former “comfort women” are heart-wrenching and rendered effective by being shown without embellishment, but by seeking to investigate the current lives of all remaining 22 survivors, the quality and impact of the testimonies vary greatly. Among the survivors are those who are understandably reticent and divulge little, while others decline to be filmed at all. Yet this shyness also leads to the film’s strongest scenes, when women stop speaking and break down, dealing with the onslaught of bad memories.

China’s case is not unique, as other nations are still badly scarred by the terrible liberties exercised by the Japanese military prior to the end of WWII. It’s no accident that the film was co-produced with South Korea, as this is a story that also belongs to them, as many Korean “comfort women” were brought to Manchuria, a fact that is carefully detailed on screen. On the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender and the end of sexual slavery, South Korea is still grappling with Japan’s refusal to acknowledge the atrocities that took place.

Quite slow-going for most and with constantly changing emotional focuses, “Twenty Two” proves to be a well-meaning and sober but scattershot documentary of elderly victims living a bleak present-day existence. Despite the natural impact of the subject, the film’s strongest asset proves to be its redolent photography, which gives the proceedings a dark, earthy feel, framing the women as pieces of their shanty homes, as elements in the harsh natural landscape frequently battered with rain.

“Twenty Two” marks Guo’s first feature-length documentary and follows his mid-length work “Thirty Two,” which dealt with the same subject in 2012, when there were still 32 survivors in China. Clearly these people won’t be around much longer to tell their stories, but the ignominy they endured is unlikely to disappear with them as the ranks continue to dwindle.

The documentary film has become unexpectedly popular in Chinese theaters, with the director pledging to donate all proceeds to victims.

The film, with a 3 million yuan (US$448,620) budget, has no big movie star and the distributors lack funding for promotion. When it debuted Monday, it had only 1.5 percent of movie slots in theaters, currently dominated by Chinese blockbusters such as “Wolf Warrior II” that has so far grossed 4.78 billion yuan.

But the situation soon changed. Theater managers realized that there are more people sitting in the screening halls for “Twenty Two” than those in other film showings, so they decided to increase screen time for it. At the same time, China’s prominent director Feng Xiaogang published a letter from actress Zhang Xinyi on his personal microblog Weibo account, asking for more attention to the film.

“Twenty Two” is expected to gross over 300 million yuan when it ends its theater run, according to estimates by film analysts. It will be another Chinese film market miracle this year, as the director initially only anticipated 6 million yuan of revenue from the box office.

The success of “Twenty Two” should also be attributed to its release date set on the International ““comfort women”” Memorial Day on Aug. 14, followed by the 72nd anniversary of Japan’s unconditional surrender in WWII on Aug. 15. The dates provoked debates on social networks and patriotic emotion that helped it soar.

The film is now being screened in Shenzhen.

(SD-Agencies)

 

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