First Run Features presents

Ema Ryan Yamazaki's New Documentary

Japan's Field of Dreams

Premiering November 20 on Virtual Cinema
Baseball is life for the die-hard competitors in the 100th annual Koshien, Japan's wildly popular national high school baseball championship, whose alumni include U.S. baseball star Shohei Ohtani and former Yankee Hideki Matsui. But for Coach Mizutani and his players, cleaning the grounds and greeting their guests are equally important as honing their baseball skills.

In director Ema Ryan Yamazaki's dramatic and intimate journey to the heart of the Japanese national character, will those acts add up to victory or prove a relic of the past?

Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams
A film by Ema Ryan Yamazaki
94 minutes | color | 2019
In Japanese with English subtitles

Virtual Cinema Opening Date: November 20, 2020
"Compelling and illuminating! Its heartbreaking agonies and hard-earned ecstasies make Koshien eminently worth watching."
- Mark Schilling, Japan Times
Ema Ryan Yamazaki's previous film was
Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George's Creators
More About the Film

Mizutani Kantoku’s (head coach) whole life has been in preparation for the historic 100th Koshien, the wildly popular High School baseball tournament that defines the Japanese summer. A stubborn but passionate man, his martial brand of baseball in Yokohama maintains all that is beautiful, if extreme, in the uniquely Japanese form of the sport — rigorous year-round training, shaved heads, and self-sacrifice. The players believe in his message that their primary goal is to grow as human beings, so cleaning the grounds and keeping impeccable manners are as important as honing their skills.

However, beyond the company line, Mizutani boils with desire to validate his career by reaching the sacred grounds of Koshien. Having always prioritized his work over family responsibilities, he has never seen his 15 year-old son, Kosho, play baseball. Rather than take him onto his own team, calling on his well-earned web of connections, he sends Kosho away to be raised by a disciple Kantoku in the remote prefecture of Iwate. Sasaki Kantoku, though, has outgrown the ways of his mentor. After having raised Major Leaguers Shohei Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi, he has a progressive vision that proposes a new direction for the sport. Sasaki takes inspiration from bonsai — although wires are needed to guide young branches, those wires must be taken off at the right time. So too does modern baseball require a delicate balance between enforcement and autonomy for players.

Across Japan, four thousand schools begin knockout competition, with only one winner from each prefecture able to advance to Koshien. Will all of Mizutani’s good deeds add up to a miracle, or will he prove to be a relic of a bygone era? Can Sasaki, with Kosho in tow, challenge the system in a culture where the nail that sticks up is liable to be hammered down? In the crucible of the Japanese summer, the scoreboard will be their report card, and a referendum on their values.
About the Filmmaker: Ema Ryan Yamazaki

In 2017, Ema’s first feature documentary, MONKEY BUSINESS: THE ADVENTURES OF CURIOUS GEORGE’S CREATORS was released worldwide by The Orchard, after raising over $186,000 on Kickstarter. It premiered at the LA Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the Nantucket Film Festival. Additionally, Ema has also directed documentaries for Al Jazeera English (MONK BY BLOOD, 2013) and NHK (SCORSESE’S SILENCE, 2017). She was the co- producer and editor of the HBO documentary CLASS DIVIDE (2016), directed by Marc Levin, which won the Grand Jury Prize at DOC NYC. She was also an editor on CNN's docu-series CHICAGOLAND (2014), executive produced by Robert Redford. Raised in Osaka, Japan by a Japanese mother and British father, Ema grew up navigating between Japanese and Western cultures. She studied filmmaking at NYU, and currently splits her base between New York and Tokyo.
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