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Number 1 Shimbun

Sneak Preview Screening: "Ernesto"

No1-2017-09 Ernesto


. . . on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 6:45 pm (note early start time) for Ernesto, the fact-based story of the Japanese-Bolivian physician who fought with Ernesto “Che” Guevara – and died, as Guevara did, in a CIA-assisted ambush in Bolivia – 50 years ago this October. A Japan-Cuba coproduction helmed by Junji Sakamoto (Face, KT, The Projects), the film is at once Cold War history, compelling relationship drama and cautionary tale. Ernesto stars Joe Odagiri as Freddy Maemura Hurtado, a second-generation Japanese-Bolivian who becomes radicalized while in Cuba pursuing medical studies. In a career-best performance, Odagiri disappears completely into the role, speaking Spanish throughout and bringing a slow-burn fire to his physician-turned-soldier. Ernesto opens with a historic 1959 scene, shot in Hiroshima. Just months after the Cuban Revolution resulted in the ousting of U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, Guevara visits Japan in his role as diplomat for the communist government. Without notifying his hosts at the Foreign Ministry, he goes to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to pay his respects. Then he turns to a Japanese journalist (Nagayama) who had followed him there. “Why aren’t you angry at the Americans?” he demands. “They did horrific things to you.” It is a question that hangs heavily over the entire film. Junji Sakamoto and Joe Odagiri will be on hand for the Q&A session. (Japan, 2017; 149 minutes; Japanese with English subtitles)

– Karen Severns

Published in: September 2017

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