Blatant sexual discrimination at a noted medical school led director Hisako Yamada to revisit her long-cherished project of honoring a woman who carved out a path for female doctors in the cinema.

Yamada, 86, will portray the tumultuous life of Ginko Ogino (1851-1913), Japan’s first female doctor, to turn the spotlight on the hard-won status of women in the medical community.

Yamada, who has featured welfare, peace and other social issues, has been angered by the recent revelation that Tokyo Medical University put female applicants at a disadvantage in its entrance examinations.

“Discrimination against women remains as rampant in medical circles as it was in the Meiji Era (1868-1912),” she said. “Now is the time for encouraging a broad audience by having them learn about the strength and kindness of Ginko, who stood up on behalf of women in an age of male chauvinism.”

Ogino was born in present-day Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. She was married into the family of a village head at the age of 17, only to get a divorce after contracting a venereal disease from her husband.

The humiliation she experienced when she was examined by male doctors, albeit for treatment purposes, motivated her to aspire to be a medical practitioner herself. She was 34 when she became the first woman to obtain a public medical license.

Ogino got remarried to a Christian missionary and went to the northern island of Hokkaido, a frontier of development at the time. She settled in Imakane to establish a utopia, called Immanuel Village. She moved to Setana on the Sea of Japan and set up her own “Ogino clinic.”

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” so goes a passage from the Bible, which Ogino took for her emotional mainstay. That passage will be quoted as part of Ogino’s lines in the movie.

Yamada said she has always wanted to direct a film about Ogino, a “pioneer who strove to improve the status of women.”

“I hope to convey how important it is to be kind to others and to serve others,” she said.

“Ogino Ginko no Shogai: Nihon de Hajimete no Josei Ishi” (The life of Ginko Ogino: Japan’s first female medical practitioner), as the movie is tentatively titled, is expected to be released in August.

It will be filmed in April and May at Kumagaya, Setana and other locations with connections to Ogino.

In 2016, there were 67,493 female doctors in Japan, accounting for only 21.1 percent of all medical practitioners in the country, according to health ministry figures.

Statistics of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that the ratio is lower than in any other member country with available data for that year.

In 1984, the 100th year of Ogino obtaining her medical license, the Japan Medical Women’s Association started a Ginko Ogino award to be conferred on female doctors who have helped improve the status of women.

The government of Saitama Prefecture also offers a Saitama brilliance Ginko Ogino prize, which it awards annually to individuals and groups who have helped create a gender-equal society.

(Hiroaki Abe contributed to this article.)