ACF Asian Cinema Fund

Asian Network of Documentary(AND) Fund

2015 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

LIST The Forgotten
Category BIFF Mecenat Fund
Project The Forgotten
Director Ghada TERAWI
Country Palestine
Director's Profile Ghada Terawi was born in Beirut in 1972 to a couple of Palestinian militants. She grew up
between Beirut, Tunis & Cairo and graduated from the American University in Cairo in 1995 with a BA in International Relations. She currently lives in Palestine. She started working in the field of documentary filmmaking in 1998 and produced her first film Staying Alive in 2001. Her other films include Matha Ba`d (2003), The Way Back Home (2006), and The Last Station (2007). Golden Pomegranate Seeds in 2009 and her latest film is On Air, 7min, a short fiction film.
A journey in the life of Okamoto Kozo, a Japanese freedom fighter and member of the Japanese Red Army, who gave up his life in Japan to join the Palestinian Liberation Movement. The film is narrated by Okamoto Kozo himself, through his diaries while he was a university student and the long letters he wrote in jail. The story knits an epic map of his journey through stories of Palestinians and Japanese who crossed Kozo’s life and affected it. His older brother’s action of hijacking a Japanese airplane to North Korea in the 1970 had a huge impact on him. It paved Kozo’s serious involvement with the Japanese Red Army. As a result, Kozo made an important trip to Lebanon and volunteered for the Lod Airport operation. Living this romantic dream of a “world revolutionary” was a stage in Kozo’s life. But being the only survivor of that operation was a turning point in his life. The interrogation process in Israeli jails, the trial and finally 13 years in Israeli prisons, marked his whole life and made him who he is now.
Being freed from prison after prisoners exchange deal between Israel and the PFLP in 1985, took him to another journey, where he faced loss, insecurity, betrayal and never peace of mind. With The Forgotten we will try to reveal his life’s journey that is full of contradictions; ups and downs, waiting and hope, pain and frustration.
Director's Note
As a daughter of two Palestinian militants, the idea of revolution was part of my childhood, history and personality. I was born in Beirut, Lebanon in the 1970’s. The period where the idea of “liberation” was very dominant. Many Palestinians joined the Liberation Movement, leaving their country, families & loved ones for the sake of one idea – the Liberation of Palatine. When I was young I remember how proud, enthusiastic, and active the Palestinians were in contrasts to what I see now in the eyes of those who live and work with the liberation movement. Many people (including my father) feel helpless and pessimistic. When I saw my father, and others talking about the era of the late 60’s & 70’s, I could see how their eyes shine and after few sentences I could feel pain in their throats. On the other side, 2 years ago I came across an image of a Japanese man, wearing a green army suite, looking so tired and helpless, held over the shoulders of some Palestinian men. A sentence was written below the picture; “the freedom fighter Okamoto Kozo, the hero of the Lod Airport operation. We shall not forget.”

The first question that came to my mind then was, why would a Japanese sacrifice his life for the Palestinian cause? Since then, I could not stop asking questions about him, his background, his family, his involvement with the JRA (Japanese Red Army) and his present situation. Also, I fell into a very contradictory view… what would I consider this person? A hero? A terrorist? Who are Heroes anyway!?? Finding his diaries that he wrote while he was a university student in the late 60’s and some letters he wrote in prison, gave me a deep understanding of his personality and real motivation. I could understand how the external factors sometimes determine destiny. It also made me realize that we are mistaken if we think that we can give one label to anything. His personal history interested me and it made me think about ourselves as Palestinians. I learned so much about our history by studying him. Our strengths and weaknesses, and where we went wrong. How we ended up struggling alone, and forgotten.
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