Yuka Sekiguchi

Yuka Sekiguchi was born in Yokohama, Japan, on May 28th, 1957. She studied International Relations at Tokyo International University and in 1981 left Japan for Australia to further her education. While studying for her Master's degree in International Relations and Pacific Politics at the Australian National University, she was introduced to various documentary films. When she had left Japan, Sekiguchi had never dreamed of becoming a filmmaker, but she had now found her true calling.

In the mid-eighties, she worked as an assistant with such filmmakers as Dennis O'Rourke (on A Question of Independence) and Chris Own and Andrew Pike (on Man without Pigs), and in 1986 produced and directed her first film, a 45-minute documentary for the government primary school in Canberra, Australia, entitled I Think I Will Learn Japanese.

In 1987 Sekiguchi lived and conducted research in the villages in Papua New Guinea and also conducted interviews in Japan for Senso Daughters, which dealt with the controversial subject of "comfort women" conscripted by the Japanese Army during WWII. The film won the Best Documentary Award at the Melbourne International Film Festival, among other awards at international film festivals.

In 1992 Sekiguchi wrote, directed, and produced When Mrs. Hegarty Comes To Japan, a very personal project for the filmmaker since Mrs. Hegarty and her late husband had been her "second parents" when she went to Australia as a young student who knew little English. The documentary chronicled Mrs. Hegarty's three-week visit to Japan, when she lived with Sekiguchi's family, and the result is an illuminating study of cross-cultural experience and exchange. When Mrs. Hegarty Comes To Japan won both the Jury Award and the Audience Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, among other film festival prizes.

From 1993 to 1998, Sekiguchi worked as a commissioning editor at NHK in Japan and later wrote and directed a series of TV documentaries, including Undelivered Letters from the Past: Last Words by Japanese Soldiers from the Pacific War (2003), Manchuria (2004) and Until Death Part Us: Alzheimer Story (2005).

Sekiguchi's film, Fat Chance (2008), is another very personal project for the filmmaker, who, fast approaching fifty and finding herself overweight at nearly 200 pounds, is determined to lose weight in hopes of becoming healthier and happier. She decided to film her six-month struggle, figuring that public humiliation would be a strong incentive to succeed.

Sekiguchi is developing a feature-length documentary called The Roudenko File, on Japan's dark secret of biological research unit during WWII, and also recently won a script development award in Japan to write and direct her first feature film, A Tale of Two Countries, an epic story of Sino-Japanese relationship through children's eyes.

In a way, all of Sekiguchi's films, even the more intensely personal ones, revolve around a search for Japanese identity, which she examines from both Japanese and international perspectives.

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Investigates the Japanese army's mistreatment of New Guinean women and "comfort girls."

Yuka Sekiguchi | 1989 | 54 minutes | Color | English subtitles