A young female journalist (Komaki Kurihara) is researching an article on the history of Japanese women who were forced to work as prostitutes in Asian brothels during the early 20th century. She locates Osaki (Kinuyo Tanaka), an elderly woman who lives with a number of cats in a shack in a remote village. Osaki agrees to tell her life story, and the film goes into flashback to the early 1920s. A young Osaki (Yoko Takashi), in an attempt to raise money for her poor family, takes a job as a maid in British Borneo (today’s Malaysia) at what she believes to be a hotel. The establishment is actually a brothel called Sandakan 8. Osaki works for two years as a maid, but is forced by the brothel’s owners to become a prostitute. Osaki stays at Sandakan 8 until World War II, and in that period she never experiences genuine affection outside of a brief romance with a poor farmer who abandons her when he makes his fortune. With the coming of war, Osaki is able to return to Japan, but because of her experiences at Sandakan 8 she is shunned and treated like a pariah —Wikipedia
Kei Kumai (June 1, 1930 – May 23, 2007) was a Japanese film director from Azumino, Nagano prefecture. After his studies in literature at Shinshu University, he worked as director’s assistant.
Often overshadowed by the achievements of his better-known contemporaries within the Japanese film industry, such as Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu, filmmaker Kei Kumai nonetheless reigned supreme in terms of raw cinematic craftsmanship. Over the course of nearly six decades, Kumai acquired and honed a reputation for creating unapologetically adult-oriented dramas that consistently explored social themes relevant to Japan. In the process, Kumai swept up a veritable pantheon of awards from the world’s top festivals, including Berlin, Montreal, Venice, and San Sebastian.
The Nagano-born Kumai joined the Nikkatsu Film Studios in the early ’50s and, over the course of six years, worked his way up through the ranks to the level of screenwriter and director. He debuted as a helmer with… read more