Photo/IllutrationMovie director Kazuya Shiraishi, left, and screen writer Junichi Inoue criticize the cancellation of "Shusenjo" at a news conference on Oct. 29. (Kenji Komine)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KAWASAKI--Organizers of a film festival here decided to screen a documentary about former “comfort women” after a number of directors and viewers denounced the earlier plan not to show the movie.

“Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue” will be shown in Asao Ward on Nov. 4, the last day of the Kawasaki Shinyuri Film Festival, which began on Oct. 27.

Organizers in September retracted their previous request to the movie's distributor to show the film at the festival.

That decision led Kazuya Shiraishi to withdraw his own movie, “Tomerareruka Oretachi Wo” (Do you think you can stop us?), which had been scheduled to be screened on Nov. 1.

Shiraishi described the decision by the organizers as “an act to kill freedom of expression.”

Acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose “Shoplifters” won the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes international film festival, agreed to have his movie “Wonderful Life” screened at the Kawasaki event. But when he took the stage in line with the showing, he also criticized organizers for deciding not to show “Shusenjo.”

At an open debate held on Oct. 30, participants asked that “Shusenjo” be shown. Some even volunteered to help out with security for the screening.

Organizers held a staff meeting on Nov. 1 and decided to show “Shusenjo.” Some of the movies that were canceled in protest may also be shown.

“Those involved in the movie industry as well as movie fans raised their voices,” one staff member said. “Many people also said they would provide support to ensure the safety of viewers, so I believe we were able to obtain the understanding of co-sponsors of this event, including the Kawasaki city government.”

Some of those who appear in “Shusenjo” have filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, demanding compensation and that the movie not be shown because they feel their copyrights and portraiture rights have been violated.

They claim they only agreed to appear in the documentary because they thought it was part of scholarly research, and they oppose having the movie shown on a commercial basis.

Film festival staff members had voted to include “Shusenjo” in the lineup, but the Kawasaki city government raised questions about showing a movie involved in a court case.

Directed by Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki, “Shusenjo” deals with the controversy surrounding the Korean women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese military personnel before and during World War II.

(This article was written by Kaname Ohira and Ryuichi Kitano, a senior staff writer.)