• Kyodo

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A nonprofit organization is aiming to give children in developing countries a chance to enjoy films by hosting screenings in places where movies are a rarity.

The Tokyo-based World Theater Project started showing films at schools in Cambodia in 2012, hoping it will help children expand their horizons.

Tatsuki Kimbara, a 29-year-old company employee, joined the group’s Osaka branch in 2016 and has held fundraising events for the project.

The NPO has hosted about 320 screenings across Cambodia using its own equipment, including generators and projectors, Kimbara said, adding it hopes to host such screenings in Myanmar and other developing countries as well.

When the crew visited a farming village about five hours by car from Phnom Penh, they showed an animated film by the late cartoonist Takashi Yanase about a boy raised in a forest who becomes a musician.

Children who gathered in a classroom leaned forward to concentrate on the film dubbed in Khmer. One said, “I want to be like the main character (of the film).”

The NPO currently has the rights to screen four films, including an anime with the main character modeled after Japanese soccer player Yuto Nagatomo.

Increasing the number of films will require purchasing the screening rights from distribution agencies and creating a dubbed version of each film.

In addition to the expenses in Cambodia, the cost of one screening exceeds ¥100,000, Kimbara said, adding that all of the expenses are covered by donations from the NPO’s members and companies who support the cause.

Kimbara, who traveled to Cambodia when he was a student at Kanazawa University, opened a branch of the organization in Kanazawa soon after switching jobs and moving to Ishikawa Prefecture.

To cover the costs of the project, Kimbara will be hosting events such as re-creating and tasting meals that come up in the animated film “Castle in the Sky” and other works by Studio Ghibli Inc. He is also considering having talk shows by people in the film industry.

“I want to bring smiles to children in developing nations through our support from the Hokuriku (Sea of Japan coast) region,” he said.

Individual donations start as small as ¥300 a month. “I’d like people to know they can treat a child to a movie with just a ¥100 donation,” he said.

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