Meet the former players of the Japanese women’s volleyball team. Now in their 70s, they used to be known as the ‘Witches of the Orient’ because of their seemingly supernatural powers on the courts. Julien Faraut’s (director of John McEnroe film In the Realm of Perfection) gripping and playful documentary tells the story of the legendary squad, who inspired legions of fans. As a whole cult genre of manga comics and anime shows, they have left a unique sporting and cultural legacy.
Formed in the late 1950s as a worker’s team at a textile factory in Post-War Osaka, the unstoppable all-female squad and their notorious coach Hirobumi Daimatsu trained through the night to become world champions in 1962, before their sensational triumph at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Faraut brings together contemporary interviews with four of the original ‘witches’ alongside striking 16mm colour film of the team in training, previously unseen archive footage produced by the Japanese Olympic Committee in 1964, and a wealth of vintage manga and TV material.
Reunited around the dinner table, the women reflect on their collective achievements and lives. Fact and fable fly hand in hand, and the strength, tenacity, ambition and immense modesty of these extraordinary athletes are celebrated once more.
Japanese, French, English