ABDUCTION: THE MEGUMI YOKOTA STORY
DIRECTED BY Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim
Monday, September 11
Engineered Air Theatre (Epcor Centre)
Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story is a heart-wrenching documentary that examines the public anguish felt by a family whose daughter inexplicably vanished in the 70s. She was just 13, on her way home from badminton practice. For 20 years, her parents had no inkling of what happened to their child, but they clung to the belief she was still alive.
Following the parents as they lobby the government, hand out information pamphlets on busy street corners and shout their pleas through blow horns at anyone who will listen feels like a violation of their privacy. Part of what is so disturbing is how few people pay attention to them. Most walk past with eyes averted.
Its a terrifying thought: people being plucked off the streets by the sinister spy network of North Korea a country that is little understood and widely feared. As the brother of another kidnapped woman explains, for North Koreans to really understand what it means to be Japanese, they must learn from authentic citizens. Spies study every aspect of their behaviour, right down to the way they wash their faces.
As pieces of the bizarre puzzle are slowly put together, partly with the testimony of a North Korean dissident who claims to have met Megumi at an official state function, its clear the young girl may have suffered terribly. The sting of that realization remains throughout the movie.
This film is deeply unsettling and devastatingly sad. I dont often cry during movies, but the tears came quickly as the dissident described how the young girl attempted to claw her way out of a locked room on a ship. The terror she must have felt is almost unimaginable.
Co-directors Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim capture the most private moments of the tenacious family as their hopes are raised, and then dashed by conflicting reports of what fate has befallen their daughter. Using a recording of a recital given by Megumi shortly before her disappearance has searing impact.
In a dramatic development, North Korea returns several of the missing loved ones after pressure from Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Watching the political wrangling is even more frustrating as rice is used to barter for the return of Japanese citizens.
Ultimately, its not known what happened to the cherub-faced child with the haunting voice and its chilling.
Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story will have a one-day screening as part of the Movies that Matter series at the Engineered Air Theatre (Epcor Centre) on Monday, September 11 at 7 p.m.