ABDUCTION: The Megumi Yokota Story

by Allan Tong for Festival Products

This year the largest documentary fest in North America turned the spotlight across the Pacific with the Made in Japan program, featuring the powerful ABDUCTION: The Megumi Yokota Story.

Directed by ex-Canadians, now living in Washington, Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim, ABUDCTION is a mesmerizing tale about a 13-year-old Japanese girl who in the late-70s, mysteriously vanished while walking home from school. Megumi Yokota’s disappearance prompts an all-out police investigation, but without suspects or evidence the case quickly goes cold.

For two decades, Megumi’s parents wait and wonder. Their hair grows grey, but their hopes remain strong. They continually make public appeals in the face of indifference from their countrymen.

Only when relations between the Japanese and North Korean governments thaw does the hated North Korean dictator Kim Jong II admits to having abducted 13 Japanese citizens in the late 1970s and early ’80s. These Japanese were taken to North Korea to teach his spies the Japanese language, habits and culture. Megumi’s parents are convinced their daughter is amongst them.

Megumi’s story is blended with those of other abductees. Kim and Sheridan mix archival footage with modern-day interviews with parents as well as a former North Korean spy. ABDUCTION takes many incredible twists and turns and is thoroughly absorbing. The dedication of the families gives ABDUCTION gives a powerful emotional drive, and illustrates the undying bond between Parent and Child that transcends the petty politics of North Korea’s government.

The sold-out audience of over 800 at the Bloor Cinema was spellbound by the film and almost all stuck around for a lively Q&A.

Allan Tong is a filmmaker, Toronto-based festival programmer and film journalist who specializes in rock music.

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