Produced by Japan's renowned humanitarian and former First Lady Kayoko Hosokawa, who founded Special Olympics Nippon in 1994, Inclusion: The Joy of Drumming is the poignant story of a taiko drumming troupe comprised of intellectually disabled members, who rose to national fame when they placed second in the annual Tokyo International Japanese Drumming Competition in 2010. Japan Society hosts the New York Premiere screening of Inclusion tonight, December 5, at 6:30 pm, with Ms. Hosokawa introducing the film and taking part in a Q&A immediately after the screening.
In Nagasaki prefecture, the Zuihou Taiko drumming team leads an autonomous existence with the support and friendship of both specialists and neighbors in a residential community called Colony Unzen. Members of the team started drumming as rehabilitation and therapy, but dedication and constant practice drove them to fulfill their dream to compete professionally under the supervision of Ichiro Jishoya, a world-class taiko drummer. Inclusion: The Joy of Drumming charts their gradual command of Jishoya's challenging compositions, while portraying the daily lives of the team and their loved ones--even a mother who once institutionalized her son--as they struggle "to live normally."
In 2005, just over a decade after the founding of Japan's Special Olympics, Kayoko Hosokawa saw her dream of hosting the world games come to pass. But she soon realized the ultimate goals of independence,social engagement and inclusiveness still had a long way to go. "Unfortunately, 80% of the Japanese public is oblivious to people with intellectual disabilities and without opportunities to interact with them, an invisible wall--built on incomprehension and prejudice, in turn born of ignorance--remains in place," she says.
Three years ago, she visited the Colony Unzen and the seeds for the film Inclusion were planted. "I was especially moved to meet the Zuihou Taiko drumming team," she says. "The six young men with intellectual disabilities, who are the stars of this film, are professional musicians who live with their families among the local community. There I found people with intellectual disabilities living independently, the very embodiment of an ideal, inclusive society, created over the course of thirty years. Director Oguri Ken'ichi understood my strong desire to show the people of Japan the sight of people with intellectual disabilities living independently and we were able to make another film together."