Viz Pictures, an affiliate of Viz Media, has announced a number of special screenings in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles of the Japanese Academy Award-winning film Hula Girls. The theatrical run for Hula Girls will commence on July 13th at the ImaginAsian Theater in New York and the Facets Cinematheque in Chicago.

 

Hula Girls was Japan's official entry in the 2007 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category and it won four major 2007 Japanese Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. Director Lee Sang-il, a Japanese of Korean descent, infused Hula Girls, which is based on a true story about a desolate mining town in Northern Japan, with a quiet comedic grace.  The humanistic humor in the film comes from the cultural clash between a Tokyo dance instructor and the initially-reluctant mining town girls she has to teach to hula so they can perform at a Hawaiian-themed resort being built in their far-from-tropical hometown in northern Japan.

 

Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of Viz Pictures (see 'Interview With Seiji Horibuchi' for an overview of Viz's live action program), sees the appeal of Hula Girls in the way it 'shows what the power of dance can do to motivate, inspire and give hope,' and hopes that American audiences will connect with 'the tenacity and dedication displayed by these women as they try to save their town through the hula.' 

 

The Full Monty, which was also based on a true story about people from a economically-depressed area (in England) finding notoriety and salvation (of sorts) through dancing was a major hit with American audiences, and Viz Pictures is hoping that Hula Girls can work some of that same sort of magic on the art house film circuit.