Journey to meet the former players of the Japanese women’s volleyball team. Now in their 70s, they used to be known as the ‘Witches of the Orient’ because of their seemingly supernatural powers on the courts.
From the formation of the squad in the late 1950s as a worker’s team at a textile factory, right up until their triumph at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, their memories and true magic from long ago bubble up into a heady brew where fact and fable fly hand in hand.
SCREENINGS & AWARDS
World Premiere: FIPADOC, Biarritz – January 2021
International Premiere: International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) – Big Screen Competition
2021 MoMA’s Doc Fortnight (North American Premiere)
2021 Jeonju Film Festival (Asian Premiere)
2021 Wisconsin Film Fest
2021 Nippon Connection Film Festival (German Premiere)
2021 Sheffield Doc/Fest (UK Premiere)
2021 Tabakalera Centro Internacional De Cultura Contemporánea
2021 Shanghai Int. Film Festival (Chinese Premiere)
2021 Bildrausch Film Festival Basel (Swiss Premiere)
2021 Midnight Sun Film Festival (Finnish Premiere)
2021 Pesaro Film Festival (Italian Premiere)
2021 Oak Cliff Film Festival (Texas Premiere)
2021 North Bend Film Festival
2021 Macao International Documentary Film Festival
2021 Melbourne International FF (Australian Premiere)
2021 Espoo Ciné International Film Festival
2021 Kino Otok – Isola Cinema International Film Festival
And more: Asian Film Archive Singapore, Japan Society, Broadway Cinematheque: Hong Kong – Beijing – Shenzhen, Olympic Museum
Upcoming: FIN Atlantic International Film Festival (Sept. 16-23), Haifa International Film Festival (Sept. 19-28), Vilnius Documentary FF (Sept. 23 – Oct. 3), Viennale (Oct. 21-31)
- Best Director, Julien Faraut, Stranger than Fiction competition North Bend Film Festival
- Best Editing, Andrei Bogdanov, Stranger than Fiction competition North Bend Film Festival
Reviews: TheTyee.ca (EN), Concrete Playground (EN), Forbes (EN), Creative Boom (EN), CBR (EN), Austin Chronicle (EN), Los Angeles Times (EN), Sight Lines Magazine (EN), The Financial Times (EN), Anime News Network (EN), The Guardian (EN), Animation World Network (EN), But Why Tho? (EN), The New York Times – Critic’s Pick (EN), Variety (EN), Slant Magazine (EN), Backseat Mafia (EN), Film Cred (EN), Asian Movie Pulse (EN), The New York Times -“Summer Movies 2021” (EN), The Peoples Movies (EN), Hyperallergic (EN), Scannain (EN), Kontainer16 (IT), Biamag (TR), Flip Screen (EN), Slacker Cinema (EN) ,EAM Cinema (SP), The Film Stage (EN), Firstpost (EN), ScreenAnarchy (EN), C7nema (POR) MovieBabble (EN), eFilmCritic.com (EN), The Reel Bits (EN), Screen Daily (EN), IFFR Report (EN), Le Bleu du Miroir (FR), Ubiquarian (EN), On se fait un ciné (FR), Film Hounds (EN), Le Polyester (FR), Focus Cinéma (FR), Fucking Cinephile (FR), MUBI Notebook (EN), Business Doc Europe (EN), Micropsia (SP), Cineuropa (EN), Variety (EN)
“Julien Faraut’s film tells an entirely different story, painting a fascinating portrait (buoyed by a sporty narrative that’s simple in its unfolding, but which becomes sophisticated, inventive and energetic through editing and music) of the emblematic, collective strength of character shown by these endearing women, who knock the ball out of the court before winning the final point.”Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa
“The Witches of the Orient also delivers a fascinating image of a post-WW2 world, in which Japan was trying to overcome its image of a vanquished nation, previously presided over by cruel rulers. The country could not have wished for a better, nor a more sympathy-inducing, way to bounce back.
And we should thank the makers for taking us on this entertaining, educative and epic journey.“Nicole Santé, Business Doc Europe
“Wonderful archival materials”
“The film is at its most strikingly effective when the editors alternate quickly between one archival source and another, emulating the lightning-paced brilliance displayed on court.“Neil Young, Screen Daily
DIRECTOR’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Having worked with the French Sports Institute (INSEP) for 15 years, Julien has had access to a large and mostly unseen collection of 16mm archival footage.
With a fascination for the incredible achievements of highly skilled athletes, Julien’s portfolio of work explores these unique and astonishing human beings through the medium of film, aiming to bridge the connections between sport, cinema and art.
REGARD NEUF SUR OLYMPIA 52, 80′, 2013.
L’EMPIRE DE LA PERFECTION (IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION), 90′, 2018
PRODUCER’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
2018 – JOHN MCENROE : IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION
2018 – THE STATE AGAINST MANDELA AND THE OTHERS
2019 – L’ETAT CONTRE MANDELA ET LES AUTRES (52′)
2021 – LES SORCIERES DE L’ORIENT
Director Julien Faraut
Production William Jenannin for UFO Production
Image Yukata Yamazaki
Editing Andrei Bogdanov
Sound Leon Rousseau
Music JASON LYTLE, K-RAW
Screenplay Julien Faraut