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Bonde and Chayamiti present

WHERE THE WAVES BREAK

a film by Inara Chayamiti

TEASER

 

SYNOPSIS

When the documentary filmmaker Inara Chayamiti migrates from Brazil to the Netherlands, she finds herself a foreigner in her own homeland. So she begins to search for her fragmented identity while investigating her family story. As in the Japanese art of repairing ceramics with gold, she glues together pieces of this story marked by two diasporas between opposite sides of the world: Brazil and Japan.

On her plane trip from Brazil to the Netherlands, Inara Chayamiti was not even seeing the clouds anymore, but the sea her great grandparents crossed a century ago. She begins to ask herself what it is like to be a foreigner in a distant land, about which you know nothing.

And as a migrant of Asian descent in this European country, her oldest life memory comes to light, revealing that she was also a foreigner in her own homeland. Having grown up outside the Japanese community and being multirracial, Inara thought she was a typical Brazilian in Brazil's melting pot. But now she realizes she has always been "in between": seen as too Japanese in Brazil, not so Japanese in the community, not Japanese at all in Japan, and now, an Asian in the Netherlands. 

 

Her identity breaks itself into pieces. Many questions emerge: What does it mean to be seen as "yellow"? What was it like for her great-grandparents and grandparents? After all, what makes a person Brazilian, Japanese or from any other place? To be born in one place? To be raised there? To understand it? To love it? What builds identity?

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Seeking her own identity, she then begins to investigate her family’s story in four generations, marked by two diasporas, between opposite sides of the world: Brazil and Japan. Combining her experiences with her family's stories, Inara creates a collage of multiple perspectives. Like in a broken tea cup repaired by kintsugi technique, each story is a fragment glued together with a golden lining that holds it all together despite its missing pieces. The old Japanese art of repairing ceramics that values history and appreciates imperfection is the film’s motif. 

 

To tell these stories, Inara and her family go on expeditions both in Brazil and Japan searching for clues about this Japanese-Brazilian saga. They visit old train stations, farm's ruins, plantations, fishing villages, factories, cemeteries and museums. Inara also finds unknown photos, documents and newspapers.

 

By uncovering the past, the family will reframe the hardships and perceive how the effort of one "pushed" the next. Inara will understand she is made of lots of pieces breaking and gluing constantly, and thereby she will be able to find her "place in between".

Characters
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Machiko

Inara's batian (grandmother)

Despite being Brazilian, she defines herself as Japanese without any hesitation. As a daughter of Japanese immigrants, she went through many adversities in Brazil, but she has never complained or even spoken about it until her granddaughter started asking about her experiences for the documentary. Probably because suffering in silence is praised in Japanese culture. The film ended up creating a safe space for batian to share difficult moments that she said she had kept for herself for too long. Ba mixes the strength and the lightness of someone who has suffered a lot of bitterness and knows how to appreciate every bit of sweetness that life brings.

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Kiyoshi

Inara’s father

Being the first son, was supposed to be the role model. However, he was a true rebel. Despite growing up in a closed Japanese community and being banned from speaking Portuguese and having Brazilian friends, he always felt Brazilian. Curious, inquisitive, goofy and idealistic, he could not fit into the rigid and hierarchical structure he grew up in. So he broke up with Japanese traditions, took the name "Roberto" and even married Inara's mother Emília, a gaijin ("foreigner" in Japanese) to his family's disappointment at the time. He broke up with everything and now Inara glues all back into her kintsugi.

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Inara

protagonist

"Daughter of the queen of the waters in the fields on her way to the tea house" is the  free translation of her full name, a combination of her many roots. For her, her name was proof of her mixture and, therefore, of her Brazilianness. In the melting pot of Brazil, she always saw herself as Brazilian despite always being "the Japanese" to others. Now far from her homeland, Inara realizes that she was also a foreigner there. Memories come to light and she begins to understand that being racialized and stereotyped is not actually something new in her existence. Making the film, she seeks to understand her fluid identity and to connect with her family in the midst of cultural, generational and linguistic differences.

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Hideo

Inara’s uncle

In his first months working at a Japanese factory, he lost 10 kilos. He did not migrate during the dekasegi wave like his other brothers, but he moved to Japan with the same dream of one day returning to Brazil. He and his wife Akemy left their teenage son Kenji in Brazil and went with their youngest Larissa. Hideo is the most reserved but also the most articulate of the brothers, having developed his oratory skills in the Japanese-Brazilian evangelical church he attends. In his spare time, Hideo fishes and takes care of the church’s vegetable garden. He keeps the bond between the sea and the land of other generations. Living 20 years in Japan, he has never been able to fulfill the dream of visiting his ancestors’ land. Now with Inara, he will visit Makurazaki searching for answers where the saga began.

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Noboru, Mary and  Yukari

Inara’s uncles and cousin

Noboru has been living in Japan for more than 30 years. He went during the dekasegi wave and stayed. During the challenging adaptation, he also met the love of his life: Mary. The couple went through all the struggles together in those early moments when there were not even Brazilian grocery stores to lessen the homesickness with a feijoada or Google translator to make their daily lives less complicated. Yukari is the couple's first child. She was born in Japan but is not considered a Japanese citizen. She is Brazilian but, in her 29 years of life, she has only been to Brazil once as a child. As the oldest cousin in Japan (Inara is the oldest in Brazil), she was a role model for the others. Yukari dedicatedly fulfilled this role and was the first family member based in Japan to attend College.

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Larissa and Ryssa

Inara’s cousins

The younger cousins grew up in Japan but they do not follow old Japanese standards. They laugh and speak loudly, and question social norms, but they do not necessarily seek to define themselves as having one identity or another. With a free spirit and a sharp sense of humor, the duo is always looking for new adventures for the sake of the adventure itself. They add a fresh and lively perspective to the family’s search.

 
 

TEAM

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Inara Chayamiti

diretora
produtora de impacto

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Lorena Bondarovsky

produtora

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Luiza de Paiva

produtora de impacto

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Kiyoshi Chayamiti

diretor de fotografia

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João Martinho

estrategista de impacto

 

PARTNERS

  • Bunkyo - Brazilian Society of Japanese Culture and Social Assistance

  • Historical Museum of the Japanese Immigration in Brazil, through its vast collection

  • Historical Museum of Londrina with Hikoma Udihara’s film collection

  • Moreira Salles Institute with Haruo Ohara’s photographic collection

  • Global REN and REN Brazil

  • Japanese Association of Santos

  • Mommalaw - Müller Mazzonetto, through legal support

  • Selected by the Logan Nonfiction Program 2021, US-based international fellowhsip


The project was also a finalist at the Sundance Documentary Fund 2021 and the Berlinale Talents Doc Station 2022.

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PREMIERE

The film will premiere in 2023, on the 115th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil, which is home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan.

During distribution, we plan to expand the reach of the film through diverse platforms: from television channels and VODs to cultural spaces, museums, schools, universities, organizations, communities, governmental and international agencies.

The film aims to promote empathy towards migrants and to increase the empowerment of Asian descendants, while inviting the audience to engage in a deep reflection on identity, bias and belonging. 
After the screenings, we intend to promote debates and conversation circles.