A Chinese-language documentary (and mainland China box-office sensation) completed with over 32,000 contributions from crowdfunding, “Twenty Two” was shot a few years ago.
by James Verniere
But it was not completed until more recently, and some of the 22 women in the film, the last of an estimated 200,000 Chinese victims of sexual enslavement by Japanese soldiers during World War II and known in Japan as “comfort women,” have since died.
Still, Chengdu-born Chinese director Ke Guo preserves their faces and voices for us in his beautifully shot and edited film. As awful as the subject of “Twenty Two” is, the film is often a delicate work of art, detailing, among other things, village life in various contemporary Chinese provinces, where the surviving women live out their days. The women, octogenarians, and nonagenarians, appear on camera, although in many cases they cut themselves off from speaking or refuse entirely to speak of the treatment they received when they were little more than adolescents, their tears making events that occurred over 70 years ago seem like yesterday.
Related: interview with Guo Ke
Images of the Chinese comfort women depicted in the documentary Twenty Two
(“Twenty Two” contains scenes of emotional anguish and adult themes.)