SOUTHEAST ASIAN PREMIERE
Directed by: Kimio Watanabe
Runtime: 63 minutes
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
The second official Paralympic Games was held in Tokyo in the summer of 1964. Kimio Watanabe’s recently uncovered documentary remains as a rare surviving record of this momentous event. Set only days after the Olympics, the Paralympics – the first time the event was named as such – drew devastatingly low viewership and press coverage. A far cry from the inclusion and acceptance of para-sports now, such as in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Watanabe’s film historicises the hardship it took to get to this point. Fragments of athletes’ social struggles play out alongside scenes of the 1964 Games that ultimately see Watanabe try to rightfully assert the inherent value and humanity of disabled peoples in society.
About the Director
Known more as a cinematographer throughout the 1940s to the 1960s in Japan, Kimio Watanabe (1918–1983) has a decorated career in film. One of his productions, The White Heron, was screened and nominated for the Palme d’Or in the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. Watanabe also lent his skills to Kon Ichikawa – the director of Tokyo Olympiad – in his classic Bridge of Japan.
Through the rediscovery and restoration of Tokyo Paralympics: Festival of Love and Glory, Watanabe’s rare directorial credit will go down as an invaluable masterpiece of Japanese sporting history.
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