Short Film Profile

Reiko's Hina Dolls

It's 1935. A Japanese family making their start in Canada receives a special gift from the country they left behind - a beautiful set of Hina dolls. The dolls take on a conflicted meaning as the family struggles to adapt to their new home. When war breaks out with Japan, the family is faced with a punishing choice.

Film notes

This short film is based on the true story of a woman who brought a set of carefully preserved Japanese dolls to the Edmonton Japanese Community Association in 2005. They were wrapped in newspaper from Japan dated in the 1930s. When asked how she was able to keep the dolls, because property was confiscated in the World War II internment process, the woman simply said, 'We fled.' This is our imagining of what she and her family went through to keep the dolls in such great shape.

We follow Reiko, a young girl whose family is trying to make a new start in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada, before the war. The dolls were meant for her older sister, who dies as an infant. The dolls are cultural icons for generations of Japanese families, and are the protectors of little girls. The dolls symbolize the desire for little girls grow up healthy, safe and happy.

When war breaks out with Japan, the family faces a difficult decision -- submit to imprisonment and sacrifice all they have worked for, or flee in the hope the situation will change. They take a risky gamble, and embark on an uncertain path.

Seventy years later, Reiko donates the dolls to the Edmonton Japanese Community Association. She explains what the dolls mean to a little girl, passing on a cherished tradition that had been hidden for so long.
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Copyright © 2012 Starry Stroll Productions Usa / Komaki Matsui

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 16 Oct 2012