“Orizuru 2015,” a selection of the Hiroshima International Film Festival, will have its U.S. premiere from Friday, May 27, to Thursday, June 6, at the Laemmle Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles.
“Orizuru” means “origami crane.” It is said that when you have folded a thousand origami cranes, then your wish will come true. The once-athletic Sadako Sasaki set out to fold a thousand cranes at her hospital bed, so that she could again compete on the tracks. But the leukemia caused by her radiation exposure from the Hiroshima nuclear bomb as a toddler cut her dream short.
Her legacy, however, lives on and continues to inspire those who work to create a peaceful world for our children. Seventy years after the end of World War II, Sadako and her thousand cranes remain among the most widely recognized symbols of peace and reconciliation, and have come to be widely embraced, not just in the U.S. and Japan, but the world over.
This 25-minute film shines a light on Sadako’s family and people from both sides of the Pacific who overcame cultural and historical barriers, both big and small, through their hard work and courage. Note: This film contains no images or descriptions of war.
From May 28 to 30, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., screenings will be followed by a discussion, titled “Wings of Peace: Change the World Through Your Courage,” with Masahiro Sasaki, Sadako’s brother; musician Yuji Sasaki, Sadako’s nephew; Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of President Harry S. Truman, who made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan; and Miyuki Sohara, the film’s director. Admission is $20 general, $15 for K-12 students (with ID).
Other screenings, without the discussion, are on May 27 and 31 and June 1 and 2 from 12 p.m., and May 28, 29 and 30 from 10:30 a.m. Admission is $8 general, $6 for K-12 students.
For tickets and more information, visit www.orizuru2015.com.
In conjunction with the film, a program titled “Sadako’s ‘Omoiyari’ Spirit will be held on Wednesday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at Toyota Meeting Hall, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3330 Civic Center Dr. in Torrance. The same speakers will be featured at this event.
Tickets are $45 for the first 100 purchased online; $55 for presale tickets online (ends May 20); $60 on-site. The price includes refreshments and admission to “Orizuru 2015” at the Lammle Royal (film only). Proceeds go toward Dream Orizuru Project’s school visit program.
Satoshi is a fifth-grader. He and his mother Yuriko moved to Los Angeles from Japan one month ago. Satoshi has a problem with his classmates and it is hard to make new friends at his new school.
One day, their neighbor Chloe asks Yuriko for help making an origami crane for her grandfather, Richard Bruner, who turns out to be a World War II veteran and a Pearl Harbor survivor. Richard is very appreciative of Satoshi’s instruction, and to his own surprise, Satoshi enjoys interacting with the old man. Richard senses Satoshi has not been able to let his guard down since arriving in this country, and feels he must help this young boy feel more at home.
Richard is working on an origami crane to dedicate at a peace ceremony in Hawaii. On a lark, the old man suggests both Satoshi and Yuriko accompany him at the ceremony to interpret for him. He jokes that Satoshi might feel a little better if he gets to go halfway home. Yuriko tries to politely decline, but one more look at her son getting along with Richard makes her consider the old man’s suggestion.
In Hawaii, Richard speaks of a 60-year old “orizuru” they will be seeing at the ceremony. Yuriko and Satoshi are both in the dark about the significance of such an artifact.
Who is Richard? What is the relationship between him and his Japanese “friends”? On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, one paper crane will fly all over the world with hopes for peace.
The cast includes Takamaro as Satoshi, Reyna as Sadako, Jed Mills as Richard Bruner, Toshi Toda as Masahiro Sasaki, Yuji Sasaki as himself, James Kyson as Mr. Lee (a teacher), Cyrus Mojtabai Townsend as Justin (Satoshi’s classmate), Dominique Deprima as a TV reporter, Emily Killian as Chloe, Yumiko Sato as Fujiko (Sadako’s mother), and Yuki Yamazaki as Kiyo (a patient who shares a hospital room with Sadako).