An artist overcomes tragedy and rediscovers the power of creative expression
Sneak Preview Screening: "Maelstrom"
followed by a Q&A with director Mizuko Yamaoka

Tuesday, November 21 at 6:00 pm*
*Please note early start time

In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2022 79 minutes

Written, directed, edited and narrated by: Mizuko Yamaoka
Appearances by: Mizuko Yamaoka, Yamaoka family,
Motoyuki Watanabe, Kouichi Hirano, Aya Oshida

Film courtesy of MAP

In this beautifully collaged documentary, Mizuko Yamaoka bares her past and present, and ponders her future as a woman who is determined to be independent - despite being in a wheelchair and in Japan, where personal freedoms are so often curtailed.

With moments so personal that they seem to channel the confessional work of Tracey Emin, Maelstrom is a deeply humanist story about overcoming devastating loss and rediscovering self-worth through creative expression.

It begins, fittingly, with the terrible accident that causes a spinal cord injury in 2002, just after Mizuko has graduated from art college in New York. This abruptly puts an end to her plans of a future in the art world, and after months of rehabilitation, she finds herself back in Japan, trapped in a wheelchair, living once again with her parents in her childhood home. She longs for freedom and a way to live alone, to forge a career; but day-to-day realities often overwhelm her.

For years, Mizuko struggles to return to a life of artistic creation despite her disability and society's conservative views. Eventually, she begins studying documentary filmmaking, ventures overseas once again, and gradually comes to terms with her complicated family relationships. She also sets up a camera and starts documenting her life, which helps to free her and to find a way forward.

Despite multiple upheavals, after 20 years in the wilderness, Mizuko Yamaoka's belief in the power of art and the triumph of the will allows her to re-arrive at the point before the accident, and to once again face the future with hope.

Please join us for this sneak preview of the illuminating personal journey "Maelstrom" before the Japan release on December 2, 2023.

MIZUKO YAMAOKA was born in Tokyo and moved to New York in 1998, where she earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. Forced to return to Japan after a traffic accident, she worked for a nonprofit organization devoted to disabled assistance before studying documentary filmmaking. In 2016, she made her first short documentary in Barcelona, and after participating in BankART AIR(Art In Residence) 2021, completed her first feature documentary. "Maelstrom" was the winner of the Japan Documentary Film Award 2022 at the University of Pittsburgh, and screened at Nippon Connection in Frankfurt, Germany, and Japannual 2023 in Vienna, Austria, among other festivals in Japan and overseas. Mizuko is a 2023 ACY Artist Fellow.

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk 03 3211-3161 or register from below.
All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.
We kindly ask for your cooperation with Covid-19 prevention measures at the reception desk and masks are absolutely mandatory on the premises.
(Club regulation is relaxed but we have decided to keep it since audience will be forced to sit in close proximity to others)

- Karen Severns, Film Committee