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The First Breath of Tengan Rei is a feature film currently in post-production. Erika stars as a young Okinawan woman named Rei who journeys to America to confront two former Marines that were convicted of raping her ten years ago. Rei kidnaps Paris, the teenage son of one of the Marines, and holds him captive in a motel. As Rei prepares to face Paris’ father, Rei and Paris make unexpected discoveries about each other and themselves.

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is a revenge drama that evolves into a tale of redemption and reconciliation. Set against the ongoing American military presence on the Japanese island Okinawa, the film explores the psychic consequences of occupation, for both occupier and the occupied. It questions the possibility of transformation for the victim and perpetrators of a heinous crime, finding hope in the hard road of forgiveness.

The First Breath of Tengan Rei combines the perspectives of Japanese and American creators, cast and crew to explore the complex relationship between the two countries and seek universal truths about occupation, healing and forgiveness. The film employs an intimate and deeply personal approach, challenging audiences to find their own answers to the questions the film raises.

The film’s fictional story is inspired by a pattern of crimes committed by U.S. service members stationed in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and elsewhere, a pattern that sadly persists to this day.

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is a Japanese/American co-production, filmed in Okinawa, Japan, and in Chicago, USA, in 2006 and 2007. It is the first feature film by co-directors Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski, fellows of the IFP Narrative Rough Cut Labs in New York City. Junko was a finalist for the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Director’s Grant.