World Animation Theater 2019: 13 Animated Documentary Films by Female Directors

Documentaries and animation meet in a special event called World Animation Theater (WAT2019).

13 animated documentary films by female directors from Japan, Korea and Sweden will be screened in a number of venues across Japan, starting in Tokyo before heading west throughout 2019/20. The stories cover a wide range of experiences from the deeply personal to global politics.


Birth – Weaving Life and Birth -Dancing Life is an animated documentary omnibus film based on six experiences of child delivery as told by different women during interviews. The films have been directed by Arisa Wakami, Chie Arai, Atsuko Koguma, Bak Ikeda and Hirofumi Ohashi. Three of the films come from a 2016 omnibus called “Birth: Tsumugu inochi” (IMDB) while the other three are from “Birth: Odoru inochi”.


8 shorts from South Korea:

You Are My Sunshine – Dir: Hwangbo Sae-byul – A love story for a beloved dog and the owner’s reaction after it suddenly dies.

My Father’s Room Dir: Jang Nari – A woman abused by her father also has some compassion for him in this short.

A Hole in the Door – Dir: Ha Soohwa – A beautiful paint-on-glass animation for commemorating the director’s dead grandmother.

Hopebus a Love Story – Dir: Park Sung-mi – A stop-motion animation story showing solidarity displayed by female workers in a real labor via LEGO blocks.

Mrs. Romance – Dir: Han Byung-a – A dream or a fact? a middle-aged housewife meets a good-looking Italian boy on a trip.

A Letter That Bloom Flowers – Dir: Jude Kang – The real voices of two young women who have escaped from North Korea and now live in South Korea.

The River – Dir: Kim Hee-seon – A young director interviews people along the border of North and South Korea to examine lives lived in the divided peninsula.

Feruza – Dirs: Kim Ye-young and Kim Young-geun – A road movie chronicling the meeting between a couple of Korean film directors and an Ethiopian girl who dreams to go to Korea and continuing her studies after graduating from junior high school but got married. How will the directors change her life?


Unkilled, Chapter 1” – Dirs: Hanna Heilborn & David Aronowitsch.

A documentary film project told in chapters about the global system of detention of migrants that has evolved from their previously animated documentary films “Hidden”, “Slaves” and “Sharaf”. It has been animation by Kaoru Furuko.

Andra stranden” and “Still Born” – Dir: Åsa Sandzén (Japan Premiere)

This is an animated documentary of a spiritual world where death is encountered firsthand. Kaoru Furuko took part in the animation production.

To find out more, head over to the site.

The films will first be screened in Tokyo‘s Shimokitazawa Tollywood from June 29 through to July 26, 2019 – details already available – and then the event will tour Kyoto (Kyoto Demachiza), Himeji (Himeji Animation Runs!) and Nagoya (Nagoya Theater Cafe) until the end of June 2020 – no details announced as of yet.

This collection of unique examinations of social issues points to an exciting burst in creativity and diversity in the type of filmmakers bringing their work to the screen and the organisers point to the #MeToo movement as being a catalyst. Indeed, the Korean animations in particular have a heavy political focus as they address a lot of issues in animated form, although animated documentaries have a bit of a longer history in Europe as exemplified by the filmography of Hanna Heilborn who specialises in interviewing young people who have fled conflict and poverty and found themselves refugees trapped in immigration systems. To get the inside story, it’s best to go to the events because some of these animators/directors will be at some of the screenings.

This leads neatly into the next point because there is a crowdfunding campaign underway at Motion Gallery to help with WAT2019’s theatrical release. Funds will be used to cover travel costs and operation expenses, publicity and possibly add another venue the films will be screened at.

To help gather funds there are a series of rewards look like tickets to the events including director talks, a clear folder and other stationary with illustrations from the animators, postcards with an autograph and other things. The biggest reward will be helping these animators in their careers as they can show their films far and wide to more audiences.

To find out more, head to the official website – Japanese / English

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