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HALVING THE BONES

USA, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Documenta)

Director: Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury

At the turn of the century a Japanese girl was encouraged by her father to fulfil Japan's destiny of spreading around the world. She accepted an arranged marriage with a pioneer photographer and went to make her life in Hawaii. Two generations later, after her funeral in Tokyo, her grandaughter returned to the USA with several of her bones exquisitely packaged.

That grandaughter is film maker Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury and the bones became the inspiration to explore her unusual Japanese-American heritage, as well as her more personal relationships with her mother and her Japanese grandmother. Yet, while she feels the need to rake through her family's past, her own mother seems almost perversely uninterested in anything except the present.

Lounsbury incorporates interviews (including a moving interview with her mother, Masako) and newsreel footage, together with material ostensibly taken from home movies shot by her grandfather in Hawaii about 90 years previously. But this fascinating footage also raises questions such as how a young bride who hand-tinted her husband's photographs may have also 'tinted' the story of their life in a remote territory such as Hawaii

Covering the sometime fraught Japanese-American experience from WWII internment to assimilation, Halving The Bones is a warm, deeply personal exploration of the bonds between the women of three generations of a family (PH)

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