THE VANCOUVER ASAHI
Directed by Yuya Ishii
Opening Night Film, 2014 Hawaii International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival
On the Vancouver docks in the 1930s, the stuff of legends was born. It was born out of the sweaty mean-mugging of racial discrimination and the spiritual void felt by a Japanese Canadian immigrant community in search of something to believe in. And it took life on the baseball diamond, where an unlikely bunch of Isseis and Niseis outplayed their bigger, stronger white opponents to become the biggest attraction in baseball in the Pacific Northwest. That is, until the tragedy of nationalism proved bigger than baseball.
It’s an incredible underdog sports story and an even more incredible Asian Canadian one that has inspired a documentary (Sleeping Tigers, SDAFF ’03) and now a star-studded feature-film event, THE VANCOUVER ASAHI, directed by the versatile Yuya Ishii (A Man with Style, SDAFF ’12; Our Family, pg. 113). Reji (Satoshi Tsumabuki) and Kei (Ryo Katsuji) are sawmill workers by trade, but shortstop and second base at heart. They quietly bear witness to the local Japantown debate over loyalty vs. assimilation, but they see in baseball an alternative way to assert their identity, gain recognition, and bring all people together. They just need some wins first, and they have an idea on how to make that happen.
THE VANCOUVER ASAHI is a great baseball film that understands the magnetism of the sport, the mechanics of strategy, the enchantment of fandom, and the issues of race and class that undergird a game that is presumably for all. –Brian Hu
To Walk Beside You (2009)
Sawako Decides (2010)
A Man With Style (2011)
Mitsuko Delivers (2011)
The Great Passage (2013)
Our Family (2014)
Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kazuya Kamenashi, Ryo Katsuji, Yusuke Kamiji