After rethinking the parameters of the sports documentary with John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, director Julien Faraut has returned with another singular tale in the world of competition, this time exploring a peculiar, fascinating true story. The Witches of the Orient, which premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam earlier this year, follows a group of Osaka textile workers that formed a Japanese women’s volleyball team in the late 1950s and became an Olympics-winning international sensation, feminist role models, the subject of a wildly popular comic book, and a still-influential anime.
KimStim has now acquired the film, in a deal negotiated by KimStim’s Ian Stimler and Bojana Maric of the Swiss based Lightdox. Set for a July 9 release beginning at Film Forum in NYC, perfectly timed before this year’s Olympic Games are set to kick off in Tokyo, we’re pleased to debut the exclusive trailer.
Rory O’Connor said in his Rotterdam review, “Around these fun little experimentations is a classic, satisfying sporting story and Faraut knows better than to mess too much with the formula (the plucky grafting underdogs, a team formed in an Osaka shipping company, did indeed come from nowhere to achieve unlikely feats). Yet there’s a diverting spikiness to Witches, and Faraut plays it in an atypically subdued key––even daring to wonder if all that sweat and effort was worth it. Faraut thus subverts the fetishized training montage, an archetype from the Rocky series (the Soviets, coincidentally, are once again the physically imposing baddies here), into a grueling monotonous grind, with the score to match.”
Watch the exclusive trailer below.
The Witches of the Orient opens on July 9 at NYC’s Film Forum and will expand.