A/V Room









Bashing - Preview & Cannes reaction

Preview by: Jack Foley

A JAPANESE film about a freed hostage who is rejected by society has been turned into a damning indictment of the country's attitude towards such victims at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Bashing, from director, Masahiro Kobayashi, is a fictional tale designed to pass comment on Japan's attitude towards hostages that have been freed.

But it was shown at Cannes in the same week that another Japanese security contractor was taken hostage in Iraq.

And contains many parallels between the plight of another aid worker, Nahoko Takato, who was kidnapped in Iraq and then freed last year.

Kobayashi insisted that the film was not intended as a commentary specifically on his country's attitude to people taken hostage in Iraq, but more 'the harassment of the hostages (when they return)'.

And he admitted to feeling a little perplexed about Japan's attitude towards such victims, where many are ostracised.

Speaking through an interpreter at Cannes, he attempted to explain: "It's perhaps due to the fact that Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, adopted a very negative stance.

"He rejected responsibility for their [hostages] acts and said it was up to the hostages to shoulder the responsibility."

He also pointed out that the Japanese media had also swayed opinion against freed hostages.


The film itself stars Fusako Urabe as Yuko, a former hostage who returns to Japan after being freed from the Middle East.

Six months on, her return is proving to be much more of an ordeal, given that it seems the whole of Japanese society is against her after being embarrassed and horrified at the international attention she received.

Yuko is 'bashed' every day by insults in the street, anonymous phone calls and even physical violence.

Fired from her job, her isolation from the outside world deepens along with her despair.

After losing her only supporter - her father - she begins to think the unthinkable: to return to the only place where the expressions on people's faces aren't cold or filled with anger, to the only place she has ever felt needed.

While buying Japanese sweets for the Middle Eastern children she allows herself a secret little smile.

The film is clearly inspired by the story of three Japanese hostages in Iraq, who were released in April, 2004, even though Prime Minister Koizumi rejected the kidnappers' demands that Japanese forces withdrew from the country.

Two of them planned to return to Iraq, creating controversy in Japan, where many criticised their decision to travel to such a dangerous region in the first place.

It remains to be seen how Japanese audiences react to Bashing, given that it tackles one of society's 'taboos' in such unapologetic and challenging fashion.

The film was one of 21 films competing for the coveted Palme d'Or prize.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z