The Witches of the Orient

Director Julien Faraut / 2021 / France

The acclaimed filmmaker behind John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (MIFF 2018) serves up the story of the Japanese women’s volleyball team who became icons.

From 1960 to 1966, Japan’s official women’s volleyball team racked up a record 258 successive wins, including Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo games. Dubbed the “Witches of the Orient” – a misogynist and racist moniker alluding to their supernatural prowess on the court, which they reclaimed as their own – this team of former textile workers turned national champions gained such renown that they inspired a craze of manga characters and anime series.

Following up his extraordinary documentary John McEnroe, French filmmaker Julien Faraut brings these amazing women to life via a fascinating collage of new interviews (the surviving team members are now in their 70s), cinematically vivid archival footage and unexpected anime sequences, all set to a dynamic electronic soundtrack from K-Raw, Jason Lytle and Portishead.

“Beautifully put together and enthralling throughout. The Witches of the Orient mixes fact and fable to create a fascinating portrait of remarkable women.” – Backseat Mafia

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