by Sam Zukin
On Sat., Dec. 9, the LGHS Japanese National Honors Society (JNHS) helped facilitate the Haiku Holiday Film Faire at the LGHS theater which entailed exclusive screenings of two independent documentary films and a myriad of tables that students utilized to sell crafts. These two films demonstrate the complex but emotionally satisfying connections between Japan and the US.
To prepare for the event, JNHS volunteers organized the tables for the students selling the crafts, organized the VIP bags, and then put up posters around campus. Throughout the film faire they worked as ushers and gave announcements before the beginning of each film. “It was really cool to talk with the producers and directors after the movies and see how passionate they were about their world and it’s important to show there is so much common ground between cultures,” said senior and JNHS member Megan Stenman.
After everyone entered the theater, Japanese teacher Ann Jordan delivered some opening words to kick off the first film titled “The Blacksmith.” The documentary follows the relationship between Funatsu Funahiro and his mentor Usui Kengo through their fervent passion of blacksmithery. It also details the intricacies involved with authentic blacksmithery, specifically the knowledge of chemistry, and also delves into Japanese culture. Filmmaker Mari Mukai possesses the ability to undertake every aspect that went into producing this film by herself. After watching a Japanese TV show featuring Funahiro, she took it upon herself to tell his entire story. She then filmed for the next year and a half before editing down the 125 hour footage. “I felt this strong connection between them, and I think it is a universal theme that you meet people and someone can be your mentor and someone can be your apprentice. It’s about a connection between people, and I really wanted to film that,” Mukai said.
Subsequent to the end of the film, Mukai answered audience members’ inquiries. The next part of the film faire included a 45 minute intermission where guests could wander throughout the main hall to view and potentially buy a variety of items from students; the products included artwork, clothing, and stickers, showcasing the unique talents of LGHS students. “It was truly amazing to see the artistic talent that LGHS students have. All the crafts were beautiful and would make great Christmas gifts. I would definitely attend again,” said junior Ana Cismaru, who managed the International Club table.
After the time allotted to view student artwork passed, JNHS members brought everyone into the theater for the final documentary film. Barry Frechette and Max Esposito’s “Paper Lanterns” tells the inspiring story of Mr. Shigeaki Mori who continuously carried out research on the 12 American POWs who died in the Hiroshima bombing, taking it upon himself to inform their relatives on their fates and include the POWs in the Hiroshima Peace Museum. The documentary followed the relationships Mori forged with the victims’ relatives and illustrated the humanity all people possess. Frechette became involved in Mori’s story thanks to his great uncle, who was a good friend of one of the relatives of the deceased soldiers. Frechette answered questions during the faire on a FaceTime video call and explained the challenges the language barrier posed but realized that “we’re all ordinary people.”
Nobuko Saito Cleary, the president and founder of Cross Cultural Communications, also helped produce “Paper Lanterns” and attended the screening at the high school. “The most important message is that people sacrifice,” said Cleary. “You have to keep the peace. It’s about what people should be to be a good human being.”
“Paper Lanterns” screened in 51 countries so far and Frechette hopes to expand it to a wider audience in 2018. The Haiku Holiday Film Faire flourished with a turnout of 100 attendees and shed light on relationships and connections with Japan.