OSAKA – Moved by a visit to an orphanage for disabled children in Shanghai, Taeko Yoshihara felt the urge to do something to help. So she teamed up with a Chinese film production company to make a movie based on her experience.
The 33-year-old Japanese mother of Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, wrote the script for the movie, had it translated into Chinese, took it to the production company and had it filmed.
Titled “Blue Moon,” the movie, about a Japanese orphan in China, will be screened at a civic hall in her hometown several times this month, and plans are being made to take it to cinemas elsewhere in Japan, as well as to China and other countries. The movie is mainly in Chinese, with Japanese subtitles.
Yoshihara gave the film its title in order to compare the moon to people born in an unfavorable environment. “It is said that the Earth shines blue with life but the moon doesn’t as it has none. I wanted to send out the message that people who aren’t born in a favorable environment can also shine and shed blue light if they try,” she said.
“Through this movie, I want to send out a message of hope and tell people that their dreams will come true if they have courage and if they make the effort.”
Yoshihara, a housewife, said she had always hoped to become a nursery school teacher but was unable to fulfill her dream because she had to help out in her father’s bar when he became ill. She and her elder sister now run the bar, also named Blue Moon.
She said she went to Shanghai in spring 1995 after hearing of the plight of orphans in the city from a friend studying in China.
“During a conversation we had, my friend told me that there were many orphans in China. I thought I had to go and see the situation with my own eyes,” Yoshihara said. It was her first visit to China.
Yoshihara, however, was unable to obtain permission from the Shanghai government to visit the orphanage until three or four months later. She once returned to Japan and then visited again after the city gave her the green light.
She said she was shocked that there were as many as 300 disabled orphans at the orphanage she visited. Her heart broke to think how they would feel when they grow up, finding out that their parents abandoned them.
On her way home from the orphanage, she said, “I thought of what I could do to help, but I didn’t want just to donate money.
“Money can probably make one’s life flourish for a moment, but nothing remains. I wanted to do something that would remain in people’s hearts.”
She decided on some form of art, then settled on the idea of a movie.
“I thought a movie could serve my purpose well, because if 10 people saw my movie and spread the word to 10 more people each, that would already mean 100 people,” she said.
Yoshihara, however, had no knowledge of movie script writing, so she contacted a couple of people who were studying to become professional scriptwriters to ask them to write one for her.
She said none of the scripts, however, was anything close to what she had in mind, so she asked a professional scriptwriter to come up with one.
She rejected that too and decided she had to write it herself.
Yoshihara, the mother of a 7-year-old boy, said she had no idea of where to start until one day she found a nonfiction book in a library about a woman, an orphan herself, who had adopted and brought up a number of other orphans.
She said she knew immediately that she wanted to tell a similar tale that would show how people can reach out and help others.
The book’s writer welcomed Yoshihara’s taking ideas from his book, and so Yoshihara started writing her script.
“People said I could never do it, but I was determined,” she said.
Yoshihara’s movie, which runs 90 minutes, is about a Japanese girl left behind in prewar China who later has a romantic relationship with a Chinese man.
“Through the movie, I want people to know about the situation of orphans and for people to think about it,” Yoshihara said.
She said she also hopes the movie will help in its own small way to promote friendly relations between Japan and China.
“I think the reason the Chinese production company decided to produce the film is because they understood that I really wanted to promote bilateral relations,” she said.
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