Women in N.Y. film wins award

by Seana K. Magee

Kyodo News

NEW YORK — Kyoko Gasha, a Reuters TV reporter, has won a prestigious award from media professionals for her documentary about Japanese women living in New York.

“Mother’s Way, Daughter’s Choice” depicts professional women who have decided to carve out lives for themselves in Manhattan and the choices they have made along the way, partly reflecting Gasha’s own experiences.

Gasha, 47, had already received the audience and best cultural documentary awards at this year’s New York International Independent Film Festival, but this was the film’s first award from a professional association.

The Newswomen’s Club of New York annually awards outstanding journalists in a number of categories, with the winners selected by a panel of ranking media professionals.

“This (award) is different because it is from the Newswomen’s Club of New York,” she said after receiving the award at a ceremony Thursday. “One of the reasons I made this movie is to show encouragement among human beings and mainly women.”

It was particularly meaningful, she said, because it was given by her female peers.

The inception for Gasha’s documentary came about in 2005 after she first contemplated writing a book about the Japanese women portrayed in the film.As a veteran reporter, who formerly worked for TV Tokyo covering high-profile news events such as the 1995 Kobe earthquake, however, she decided to stick with a visual form of storytelling.

The 85-minute film explores the ways the women, including single mothers like Gasha herself, reconcile their cultural upbringings with their new lives in the United States.

The movie has hit the international film festival circuit in places like Tunisia, Taiwan, Japan and the United States. Gasha, who attended many of the showings, said it provoked conversations about the women and their struggles with guilt, denial, sacrifice and joy.

Gasha, who moved to New York in spring 2001, likened the arduous process of making the film to “weaving a tapestry” from the various ideas she had set out with.

“I love my mother, but I just don’t want to be like her” was one theme, she explained, adding that she began the project by questioning why successful women from Japan would choose to start their lives over in New York City.

Gasha first presented her work in progress to an audience in New York with the focus solely on stories of other Japanese women. After receiving feedback from the audience, however, she ultimately decided to insert her own story into the finished product.