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Two documentaries from Kim Longinotto - exploring perceptions of female sexulaity in Japan. SHINJUKU BOYS reveals the Japanese 'onnabes' - women who live as men. The flm introduces three onnabes who work as hosts at the New Marilyn Club in Tokyo. GAEA GIRLS follows a group of Japanese women wrestlers.
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GAEA GIRLS is a brutally unsentimental look at a group of young Japanese women who are training to become professional wrestlers and become part of the Gaea Girls - Japan's (then) most famous and toughest female wrestling troupe. Featuring wrestling superstar Chigusa Nagayo (ex-Crush Gals) who'll be familiar to any fan of the sport.
Sometimes hard-to-watch, this doc is more than a film about sport, it's about determination, pride and femininity.
SHINJUKU BOYS is even more fascinating, a look at the lives and dreams of a group of women who live their lives as men. Defined as 'onnabe', these women are strong individuals who are trying to find themselves a comfortable space in the world. They works as 'hosts' at a Tokyo nightclub where ostensibly straight women come to meet them. It's both challenging and charming, uncovering a previously 'hidden' world with warmth and understanding.
For those who love documentary, these films are a must!
The film follows three onnabe or 'women living as men' who make a living as hosts at a club in Tokyo. It is a mixture of fly-on-the-wall observation, narration and behind-the-camera interviews. This works well. The narration helps us put what we see in context, but isn't intrusive, and the interviews are done beautifully. In the most poignant moment of the whole documentary Gaish, the toughest of the three, interviewed in what appears to be his bedroom, gradually opens up and reveals the betrayal and rejection which has made him so angry and defensive.
Tatsu, one of the other 'women living as men' is actually a trans man or FTM (female-to-male transsexual). He's on hormones and appears to have been on them for some time (broken voice, etc) but doesn't appear to have had any surgery. He lives with a girlfriend whose family aren't happy about the fact: not because of any moral outrage at the idea but more because they won't be able to marry and have children. Tatsu was the first FTM i had ever seen and it's not an exaggeration to say that seeing and hearing him changed my life.
Finally, there's Kazuki who lives with a trans woman girlfriend in a semi-platonic relationship. Both Kazuki and Gaish are male-identified but more ambiguously than Tatsu. Neither of them are on hormones.Read more ›