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Blogs from the past

The First Breath of Tengan Rei screens Feb. 28 in Chicago and March 5, 7 and 8 in Yellow Springs, Ohio!

Benefit Screening for King HS Band

Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.
Martin Luther King College Prep
4445 S. Drexel Ave., Chicago

See the Facebook event page and RSVP
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Join us for a benefit screening of The First Breath of Tengan Rei, to benefit the Martin Luther King College Prep band, which performed in the Presidential Inaugural Heritage Music Festival and the Illinois Inaugural Ball.

Tengan Rei in Nonstop Learning Festival Week

Thursday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 7 at 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 8 at 1 p.m.
The Little Art Theatre
247 Xenia Avenue, Yellow Springs, Ohio

See the Facebook event page and RSVP

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Husband/wife filmmakers Ed M. Koziarski, an Antioch College alum, and Junko Kajino, a Wright State University alum, return to Yellow Springs, where they met in 1997, to screen their feature directorial debut, The First Breath of Tengan Rei, as part of the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute’s Nonstop Learning Festival Week.

Blogs from the past


The First Breath of Tengan Rei returns to the Gene Siskel Film Center,
site of our successful three-night premiere run in November,
for two more screenings:

Sat. Jan. 3 at 8 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 7 at 7:45 p.m.
164 N. State St., Chicago
Gene Siskel Film Center

Please join us for the screenings, now in Dolby 5.1, followed by Q&A.

If you’ve seen it or you’re out of town, please spread the word!
RSVP to the Facebook event page here.
See photos from the Nov. 22 screenings here.

 Tengan Rei is also the lead story in the Dec. 14 issue of Stars and Stripes, the international newspaper of the U.S. Military.

Read the articles:
“Film inspired by rape of Okinawa girl by U.S. troops” by David Allen

“Script was familiar to former Marine” by David Allen

“Movie role is special for native Okinawan” By Chiyomi Sumida

 We’re screening in the internationally acclaimed International Film Festival of Kerala,
World Cinema Section

Thursday, Dec. 18 at 9 p.m.
Kalabhavan Theatre

Kerala, India


Chicago premiere Nov. 21, 22 & 24 at the Gene Siskel Film Center

Buy tickets!

The First Breath of Tengan Rei will have its hometown premiere in a
three-night run at the beautiful Gene Siskel Film Center in
downtown Chicago. Please join the film’s cast and crew for a Q&A following
each screening, and a post-screening reception Nov. 21 in the Film Center¹s
Gallery Café.

Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Chicago
Friday, November 21 at 8:15 pm
Saturday, November 22 at 8:00 pm
Monday, November 24 at 7:45 pm

Advance tickets will be available via the Film Center web site (click
on the “tickets” button) or from Ticketmaster at 312-575-8000

Please RSVP to the Facebook event
and become a fan!


Notes from Okinawa and our preview screening at Ryukyu University

Our first night in Okinawa, our producer Koide picks us up with his schoolmate Higa. Higa’s ancestors were pirates who fled the mainland centuries ago and settled in Okinawa.


Koide takes us to the Sakurazaka theatre, a new three-screen art house in downtown Naha that Koide thinks would be a good premiere venue for the film.

Koide’s plan is to build buzz and political support with preview screenings in Okinawa, open theatrically here, and use the ensuing publicity to set ourselves up for a distribution deal or theatrical self-release on mainland Japan.

Koide is opening an animation studio in Fukuoka in southern Japan, and he plans to start a branch in Okinawa, so he’ll be back regularly to oversee grassroots marketing for the the film.

At Sakurazuka we met several young Okinawan entrepreneurs, and a student from Ryukyu University, where we’ll hold a preview screening Saturday. A U.S. helicopter crashed there a few years ago.

Among the entrepreneurs is Ishihara, who owns an interpreting and consulting company. Ishihara set up the preview screening, and she’s been one of our biggest supporters here. She’s also fully bilingual, which is a big help for me.

Some of the other entrepreneurs are concerned about how Okinawan audiences would react to the political content of The First Breath of Tengan Rei. But after we show them the new cut, they’re convinced, though they still feel it would be controversial. Our little private audience responds very emotionally, particularly the student. They will marshal their considerable resources to help promote the film.

The Marines cancel the meeting that I had set with Col. Powell, the media officer for Okinawa. Col. Powell is hosting a high-ranking military official from D.C., and is booked all week. The Marines are implementing a training program to try to prevent future rapes, and we’re hoping we might be able to participate in the program, screen on base, or at least get the Marines to send a representative to one of our screenings. They agree to meet with Ishihara on our behalf after we’ve left town.


Tom Kruetzer, the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Consulate, is expecting my call. He heard about us from the Marines. We check our cell phones and cameras at the consulate gate. A new, truck-bomb proof gate is under construction. In his office, Kreutzer is friendly. He says our conversation sets his mind at ease about anxieties passed along from the Marines. Kreutzer wishes us luck but declines to participate in the screening. He says he prefers to keep the dialogue government to government. He thinks the U.S. did a better job with the rape case earlier this year by condemning the attack promptly. He wants Okinawans to realize that Americans don’t tolerate rape – where he comes from, they would get their guns and hunt down the rapist personally. This is what he says.

We meet with the head of the TV station Q.A.B. He’s personally supportive of the project but is cautious not to draw attention to the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two Marines and a sailor. When his station drew parallels between a recent, similar case and the 1995 incident, he was blasted for insensitivity.

The stations head’s uncle was one of 10,000 Okinawans killed in World War II at Sugar Loaf Hill, not too far from where we’re meeting. Okinawa just commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the end of hostilities. We see anti-military demonstrators outside the prefectural office, where they protest regularly. We use audio from one of these demonstrations in the film.


Our investor Sakaguchi takes us to meet with the recently elected Gov. Nakaima at the prefectural office. Sakaguchi was an anti-military activist at the University of Tokyo in the 60’s, and was blacklisted on the mainland as a result. He’s an official in the Okinawa Department of Labor. Sakaguchi provided our introduction to many of our key supporters on the island.

Sakaguchi was an anti-military activist at the University of Tokyo in the 60’s, and was blacklisted on the mainland as a result. He’s an official in the Okinawa Department of Labor. Sakaguchi provided our introduction to many of our key supporters on the island.

Sakaguchi is recovering from being poisoned by a moth that’s running rampant this summer. He tells the story of how he released lizards around his house to catch the huge flying cockroaches, but his cat ate the lizards.

In the prefectural office, a woman serves us tea in a room with embroidered walls and ceiling-high calligraphy scrolls. Four secretaries in traditional Okinawan kariyushi shirts stand in the doorway, attentive. Nakaima likes Chicago. He remembers tall buildings and good steak and that you could still smoke in blues clubs (not anymore).

After the meeting we debrief in a café on the top floor of the office, looking out on the Naha skyline as A Fifth of Beethoven and a Muzak version of We Are The World are piped into the room. When we leave the prefectural office, a moth lands on the student’s neck. I hope it’s not poisonous.


We do interviews with the top two Okinawan newspapers, the Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shinpo. The reporters ask us about our intentions, why we chose Okinawa, what we want to say to the Okinawan people. The Ryukyu Times reporter has also been to Chicago. He spent $600 20 years ago for a suite at the Intercontinental with a Jacuzzi in the middle of the bedroom. He asks me how I think Obama would change U.S. foreign policy if elected. I tell him I’m hopeful that Obama would improve international relations by holding real dialogue. He really wants to know what Obama would do about the bases in Okinawa. I have no idea.

The Okinawa Times article comes out the morning of our screening at Ryukyu University. It’s accurate and supportive. An Okinawan residents’ group has just been granted a cash settlement from the Japanese government in a lawsuit to stop the U.S. from holding deafening helicopter exercises above their homes at night. The exercises will continue. This is the day’s top story, but we are prominently featured as well.

The Ryukyu Times reporter comes to the screening and will report on it for Monday’s paper. We set up chairs in the aisles to accommodate the overflow audience, which sits rapt through the screening. There are a couple of Marines in the audience.


My interpreter was the interpreter for the defendants in the 95 case. She says she has spoken with soldiers who are like Nelson in the film, who feel that after finding religion in prison God has forgiven them and they are absolved. She says that an earlier version she saw of the film was too painful for her, but she likes this version better.


The post-screening discussion is deep and heated, with questions about our responsibility to the real victims, the Christian imagery in the film, the meaning of forgiveness, the portrayal of Okinawa’s natural beauty vs. its ugly realities. On the audience response forms, particularly the younger audiences are excited about the film and say they will recommend it to their friends.

After the screening, I ask Ishihara why she has worked so hard to set up this event and support our film. She says it’s because she has a seven-year-old daughter who is very curious and who will no doubt explore many social circles. Ishihara wants to help make Okinawa a better place for her daughter to grow up.

Soon we’ll post links to the Ryukyu Shinpo and Okinawa Times articles, with translated versions, and video of the post-screening discussion. Meanwhile, there’s a gallery of photos from Okinawa on our Facebook page on Facebook .

While you’re there, please sign up to become a “fan” of The First Breath of Tengan Rei!

The First Breath of Tengan Rei has a new Facebook page. Check us out at Facebook.
Please become a fan and spread the word. Thanks!

Acclaimed Japanese Filmmaker Joins The First Breath of Tengan Rei as Producer

Masayuki Koide, producer of the Japan/Taiwan co-production Addicts, now in theatres, has signed on as a producer for The First Breath of Tengan Rei. Koide is focusing on Japanese and Asian distribution for Tengan Rei. He is the producer of the film Superiority of Addicts (2007). Koide worked as a director for Fuji TV and as a producer for animation companies Sunrise (Cowboy Bebop, Gundam) and Gainax (Evangelion). He directed the films Kanpai (2001), Nigatsutekikoji (2003), and Fururi (2005 – top seller at the Puchon Film Festival in South Korea).

See (Japanese)


U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Tyrone Hadnott was arrested last week on charges of raping a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa, where Hadnott is stationed.

Click here

The attack is eerily similar to the 1995 assault by three U.S. servicemen on an Okinawan girl that inspired our film The First Breath of Tengan Rei. The pattern of crimes committed by servicemen against native women has continued unabated since the 1995 incident sparked international controversy. The military has taken nominal steps to curb the problem, but the crimes continue not only in Okinawa, but also in the Philippines, South Korea, and seemingly anywhere the U.S. fashions itself the protector of the local population.

Though it’s gotten relatively little attention in the U.S., it’s top news in Japan, where the attack has reignited anti-military protests. It’s in this heated climate that we introduce our film to the Japanese market. As we talk with sales agents, distributors and theatrical exhibitors in Okinawa and the Japanese mainland, we walk a fine line. The latest tragedy highlights the need for more international discourse on the consequences of occupation. The headlines foster heightened interest in the subject of The First Breath of Tengan Rei. But we must be careful to avoid the appearance of exploiting the issue. We’re confident that our film makes a valuable contribution to the conversation. But the impulse toward silence and denial is strong, particularly in Okinawa where the U.S. military has been the engine of economic development.

We recently completed the stereo mix for The First Breath of Tengan Rei with Lou Mallozzi of Exprimental Sound Studio and Mark Messing of Maestro-Matic . Color correction is the last major hurdle of post-production.

Here’s a clip of Junko from her appearance on the Japanese talk show Contact during her trip to Japan last December.

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is featured in Filmmaker Magazine editor Scott Macauley’s article “Support Group,” about the IFP Independent Film Lab we’ve been part of since June. Check out a pdf of the article

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is on MySpace and Withoutabox Audience.
Add us to your friends and favorites!

Junko will screen a clip from The First Breath of Tengan Rei at the 8th Annual Osaka Artpolis Movie Forum in Osaka, Japan on Nov.17.

(Links to the Japanese conference program.)

Erika, star of The First Breath of Tengan Rei, has a new film out: “Konnaaotonanoonanoko” directed by Tominaga Masanobu.

Also, see Ed’s article about fellow Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg in the Chicago Reader:

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is a poetic drama starring Erika (After Life) as a young Okinawan woman who kidnaps the teenage son of a U.S. Marine convicted or raping her ten years ago. The film is in late stages of post-production.


Photos from the IFP Market in New York City

Junko and Ed with our colleagues from the IFP Narrative Rough Cut Lab


With independent film pioneers John Sayles and Maggie Renzi


At our fabulous, standing room only screening by Rooftop Films

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is mentioned in a Sept. 17 Hollywood Reporter article about IFP Rough Cut Lab films at the IFP Market.
“Narrative Rough Cut Lab Roundup” by Eric Kohn

The First Breath of Tengan Rei clip in free public NYC screening 9/20 – Junko is finalist for Adrienne Shelly Grant!

The First Breath of Tengan Rei co-director Junko Kajino is one of five finalists for the inaugural Adrienne Shelly Directors Grant, an honor bestowed on a woman filmmaker in memory of director, writer and actress Adrienne Shelly (Waitress). Junko’s in great company. The other finalists are Kat Candler (Jumping Off Bridges), Eunhee Cho (Inner Circle Line), Georgina Lightning (Older Than America), and Jennifer Phang (Half Life). The grant winner will be announced Sept. 20 at the IFP Market in New York.

Also at the Market, a five-minute clip from The First Breath of Tengan Rei will screen along with other films from the IFP Narrative Rough Cut Lab, in a free, public Sneak Preview screening on Wednesday, Sept. 19, presented by IFP and Rooftop Films at Open Road Park, east 12th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, NYC. Live music at 8:30 p.m., screening at 9 p.m.

Erika (After Life, Cutey Honey) stars in The First Breath of Tengan Rei as a young Okinawan woman who kidnaps the teenage son of a U.S. Marine who was convicted of assaulting her ten years ago. Featuring Sean Nix, Katori Eason and Ric Arthur. Music composed by Mark Messing (Mucca Pazza) featuring musicians Jim Becker (Califone) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (Lightbox Orchestra). (under construction)

Tengan Rei heads to IFP Market – Homesick Blues in Kansai Film Festival

The First Breath of Tengan Rei is almost finished!

We’re well into dialogue editing at Experimental Sound Studio and music recording at Maestro-Matic with composer Mark Messing of Mucca Pazza and an amazing roster of musicians including guitarist Jim Becker of Califone
and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm.

Japanese actress Erika stars in The First Breath of Tengan Rei, as a young Okinawan woman who kidnaps the teenage son of a U.S. Marine that was convicted of raping her ten years ago. (web site under construction).

Erika plays the villainess in the live-action Japanese TV series Cutey Honey, now in production based on the hit manga, anime and live action film. Cutey Honey premieres in October on Tokyo-TV.

The First Breath of Tengan Rei will be featured in the IFP Market in New York, Sept. 16-22.
The IFP Market is an annual networking, financing, production and distribution conference for independent film. Recent participants include Half Nelson, Maria Full of Grace, and Mad Hot Ballroom.

We were invited to the IFP Market as fellows of the IFP Rough Cut Lab, which we attended in June. Rough Cut Lab fellows are the only narrative works in progress featured in the IFP Market, which otherwise includes narrative screenplays and in-progress documentaries. A clip from The First Breath of Tengan Rei will screen with other Rough Cut Lab fellows in two events Sept. 19: a private industry screening at the Angelika Theatre, and a rooftop screening open to Market participants.

We’re at work on a revised feature-length Homesick Blues screenplay. We’re actively in development on Homesick Blues as our second feature film and will be shopping it at the market.

The short film version of Homesick Blues will screen in the 1st Annual Kansai International Film Festival

in Osaka, Japan, where we shot the film.

Sponsored by Kansai Time Out magazine, the Kansai Film Festival is a celebration of Japanese culture in international cinema. Homesick Blues screens Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Wabi Sabi 1 program. The Festival is at Planet Station, Morinomiya, Osaka.

Pop singer Zoey stars in the Homesick Blues short as Hiroko, an 18-year-old girl spending her final days in Osaka before she runs off to Chicago to sing the blues.

Photos from the IFP Market in New York City

Junko and Ed with our colleagues from the IFP Narrative Rough Cut Lab

With independent film pioneers John Sayles and Maggie Renzi

At our fabulous, standing room only screening by Rooftop Films