Witches of the Orient

The world-beating Japanese women’s volleyball team of the 1960s roars colourfully back to life.


The Witches of the Orient

How did a group of humble factory workers become a phenomenal sports success story and the pride of an entire nation? Julian Faraut's ferociously innovative and visually stunning THE WITCHES OF THE ORIENT tells the tale of the Japanese women's volleyball team's thrilling rise, unbelievable 258 games winning streak, and eventual Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

United by their jobs in a textile factory, the Japanese women's volleyball team chased absolute perfection under the guidance of their grueling coach Hirofumi Daimatsu. Known as "the Demon,” his intense, endless practice sessions, shaped the team into a powerful force striking fear in the hearts of their competitors and earning them the racist and dismissive moniker "oriental witches.” Faraut's sparkling documentary uses fantastic manga and anime sequences combined with archival footage of blood-curdling matches and extreme training sessions, and testimony from the now-octogenarian teammates. The result charts the Witches' meteoric rise and overwhelmingly vital spirit.

The 'Witches' success is infectious and offers a hopeful prelude to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“It makes for compelling cinema, telling a fairy-tale story that celebrates ‘oriental’ strength, style and resilience.”
Business Doc Europe

“For those longing for tales of underdog victories, extreme athletic achievement, national allegories told through sports at the global stage, and for an appearance of the Tokyo Olympics (1964 version, that is), look no further.”
MUBI Notebook

“A fascinating portrait (buoyed by a sporty narrative that’s simple in its unfolding, but which becomes sophisticated, inventive and energetic through editing and music) of the emblematic, collective strength of character shown by these endearing women, who knock the ball out of the court before winning the final point.”


FIPADOC, Biarritz
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR)
MoMA’s Doc Fortnight (North American Premiere) 2021
Jeonju Film Festival (Asian Premiere)
Not Rated
Documentary, Greg's List
Japanese, French
Julian Faraut
Teo Bugbee, New York Times

In the experimental documentary “The Witches of the Orient,” the women of the 1964 Japanese Olympic volleyball team recall their whirlwind rise to gold-medal glory. The former champions wryly and modestly narrate their own story in new interviews, while the movie uses chic archival footage to set up ...

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