One of the best of the recent wave of quirky Japanese youth pics, "Ogya" was a runner-up for top prize in Hawaii. Teen-pregnancy skew makes it a good bet for family- and kid-oriented fests. Unusual Okinawan settings and appealing lead perf from newcomer Aya Okamoto should help in offshore vid market, too.

One of the best of the recent wave of quirky Japanese youth pics, “Ogya” was a runner-up for top prize in Hawaii. Teen-pregnancy skew makes it a good bet for family- and kid-oriented fests. Unusual Okinawan settings and appealing lead perf from newcomer Aya Okamoto should help in offshore vid market, too.

Pixie-haired Okamoto plays Hana, a 19-year-old Tokyo mom-to-be who carries her grandmother’s ashes to remote Hamahiga island. Hana’s estranged mother (Kimiko Yo), a volatile, tough-as-nails hick who also gave birth as a teenager, is now living in grandma’s old house, and has since started another family. Hana is supposed to meet her baby’s father, but when he doesn’t show, she has to stay, warily, with Mom, her oddball half-sister (Hiroko Akune) and the new hubby (Sansei Shiomi), a simple fellow whose answer to everything is to go to work. Offbeat locations, pleasantly goofy locals, and glimpses of village life, including a beachside bonfire and hootenanny, show a Japan auds don’t often see, and pic combines dry observational humor with a quietly mystical tone to elevate Hana’s plight — and its eventual resolution — into something special.

Ogya

Japan

Production

A Museum Pictures (Tokyo) production. Produced Seichi Ono, Keiko Yamaguchi. Directed by Fujiro Mitsuishi. Screenplay, Miyuki Noyori, Mitsuishi, Satoru Tamaki.

Crew

Camera (color), Akira Takahashi; editor, Kunihiko Ukai; music, Inomoto. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival, Nov. 8, 2002. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Aya Okamoto, Ryosuke Mura, Kimiko Yo, Ken Mitsuishi, Yoshinori Hiruma, Sansei Shiomi, Masato Hagiwara, Hayato Fujiki, Hiroko Akune.
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