The Vancouver Asahi

The Vancouver Asahi
DIRECTOR: Ishi Yuya
(Japan, 2014, 130 min.)
Tickets: viff.org
604.683.FILM (3456) for the latest info and listings.

“From a Vancouver perspective it’s a fascinating film. Beautifully shot, it recreates a lost world in Japantown, when Powell Street was all Japanese businesses and the Powell Street Grounds (today’s Oppenheimer Park) was a baseball park filled with throngs of Asahi fans.” —John Mackie, Vancouver Sun”

Once upon a time in Vancouver, there was a baseball team called the Asahi, This was in the 1930s, when the city had a small Japantown on the downtown wharves, and the team was formed by the Canadian-born kids of immigrants. At the start they were always wiped out by the burly Caucasian teams, and they encountered their share of racism and prejudice along the way. But they rethought their strategy and began to pull back lost ground … until Canada’s growing worries about Japanese militarism got in the way and Pearl Harbor led to the mass internment of émigré Japanese. The Asahi never really recovered from the war, so its achievements have become the stuff of legend.

Ishii Yuya (The Great Passage) has recreated 1930s Vancouver on a lavish scale, almost like a Fred Herzog exhibition come to life (though Herzog wasn’t around that early). The film explores the clash between separatist immigrants and their assimilationist kids and has a generous measure of Ishii’s trademark humour and humanity. It’s not the kind of sports movie we’re used to in North America, but something distinctively true to characters and its place, which also happens to be our own.

SCREENING INFORMATION

  • Friday, December 19, 8:00pm
  • Saturday, December 20, 1:45pm
  • Sunday, December 21, 6:30pm
  • Monday, December 22, 7:25pm
  • Friday, December 26, 5:30pm
  • Saturday, December 27, 1:45pm
  • Monday, December 29, 3:15pm
  • Tuesday, December 30, 6:00pm
  • Friday, January 2, 1:45pm
  • Tuesday, January 6, 3:30pm
  • Thursday, January 8, 8:00pm