Tsuyako: A Short Film about Love and Duty in Postwar Japan
Tsuyako is a 2011 short film written, directed and produced by Hikari, a Japanese filmmaker based in Los Angeles. The film tells the story of Tsuyako, a factory worker and mother in postwar Japan, who is visited by her former lover Yoshie, a woman who wants to take her away to Tokyo. Tsuyako must decide between her duty to her family and society, and her love for Yoshie and her freedom.
The film is based on the true story of Hikari's grandmother, who had a secret relationship with a woman before she married a man and had children. Hikari wanted to explore the theme of women's oppression and liberation in Japan, as well as the impact of war and tradition on personal choices. She also wanted to portray a realistic and respectful representation of lesbian love, without sensationalizing or fetishizing it.
Tsuyako was made as a thesis project for the USC School of Cinematic Arts, with a budget of $20,000 and a crew of 70 people. The film was shot in Japan, using authentic locations and costumes from the 1950s. The film stars Miho Fujima as Tsuyako, Shinji Ozeki as her husband Kinya, and Sachiko Katsumata as Yoshie. The film also features Chieko Ichikawa as the older Yoshie, who narrates the film through a letter to Tsuyako's granddaughter.
Tsuyako has received critical acclaim and numerous awards from international film festivals, including Best International Short Film at the Foyle Film Festival (Northern Ireland) and the Guanajuato International Film Festival (Mexico), both of which qualified the film for Oscar consideration. The film also won Best Live Action Short Film at the Provincetown International Film Festival (USA), Best LGTB Short Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival (USA), DGA Student Award for Best Female Director (USA), Future Filmmaker Award at the Palm Springs International ShortFest (USA), Linda Mabalot New Directors/New Visions Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (USA), and many audience awards from various festivals around the world.
Tsuyako is a powerful and poignant film that explores the themes of love, duty, freedom, and sacrifice in a historical and cultural context. The film showcases the talent and vision of Hikari, who is currently working on her feature debut. Tsuyako is a must-see for anyone who appreciates short films, LGBTQ+ stories, or Japanese cinema.
You can watch the trailer of Tsuyako [here], or find more information about the film [here], [here], or [here].