Swiss sales outfit Lightdox has acquired Julien Faraut’s documentary “Les Sorcières de l’Orient,” taking part in the Big Screen Competition of the Rotterdam Film Festival.
The film follows 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. From the formation of the squad in the late 1950s as a worker’s team at a textile factory, right up until their triumph at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, their memories and true magic from long ago bubble up into a heady brew where fact and fable fly hand in hand.
Faraut told Variety: “I’ve always thought that if I enjoyed making a film, the viewers will probably enjoy watching it afterwards. It was such a delight to meet the ‘Witches,’ to be inspired by their strength, will and extraordinary accomplishments. It was also a pleasure for me to play with music, footage and those colorful anime. The film aims at sharing this playful experience and love for cinema with everyone.”
Fascinated by the incredible achievements of highly skilled athletes, in his body of work the French director explores their endeavors through the medium of film. Faraut’s most recent credits include the features “Regard neuf sur Olympia 52” (2013) and “In the Realm of Perfection” (2018).
Anna Berthollet from Lightdox commented: “It was an instant crush for us. ‘Les Sorcières de l’Orient’ is a multilayered look at the record-holding Japanese women’s volleyball team from the 1960s, featuring remarkable visuals, bold characters, and a distinct approach to documentary storytelling. A mash-up of anime, pop culture, unique archival material, and contemporary footage, at times intensified with incredible electronic music, the film is a surprisingly fresh, vibrant, and universally touching story. The ‘Witches’ are famously remembered for winning the gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and we think the film has perfect timing.”
Lightdox recent slate of acquisitions include non-fiction titles Lars Edman and William Johansson Kalén’s “Arica,” Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed’s “Purple Sea,” and Michele Pennetta’s “Il mio corpo.”
“Les Sorcières de l’Orient” was produced by William Jehannin for UFO Production and co-produced by INSEP.