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Tsuyako: A Short Film About Love And Loss In Post-War Japan

Tsuyako: A Short Film About Love and Loss in Post-War Japan

Tsuyako is a 2011 short film written, directed and produced by Hikari (aka Mitsuyo Miyazaki), a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The film tells the story of Tsuyako, a factory worker and mother who must choose between her duty to her family and her love for another woman in 1950s Japan.

Tsuyako: A Short Film About Love and Loss in Post-War Japan

The film has won numerous awards and accolades, including Best International Short Film at the Guanajuato International Film Festival (Oscar Qualified for 2012) and the Future Filmmaker Award at the Palm Springs International ShortFest. It has also received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, who praised its powerful performances, authentic production design and emotional impact.

Plot Summary

The film opens with Tsuyako (Sachiko Katsumata) working at a textile factory in post-war Japan. She is married to a man who is away fighting in the Korean War, and has a young daughter who lives with her parents. One day, she receives a letter from her husband, informing her that he will be returning home soon.

That same day, she meets Yoshie (Miho Fujima), a former classmate who has come to visit her at the factory. Yoshie reveals that she has always loved Tsuyako, and that she ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage. She asks Tsuyako to run away with her, but Tsuyako hesitates, knowing that she has responsibilities to her family and society.

Tsuyako decides to spend one night with Yoshie at a nearby inn, where they rekindle their romance. However, their happiness is short-lived, as they are discovered by Tsuyakos father (Shinji Ozeki), who barges into their room and beats them up. He accuses Tsuyako of bringing shame to their family, and threatens to take away her daughter.

Tsuyako is forced to make a choice: to stay with Yoshie and follow her heart, or to return to her family and conform to her role. She chooses the latter, leaving Yoshie behind and breaking both of their hearts.

Themes and Analysis

Tsuyako explores the themes of love, loss, freedom and oppression in post-war Japan. The film depicts the harsh realities faced by women in a patriarchal society, where they are expected to obey their fathers and husbands, and sacrifice their own happiness for their familys honor. The film also shows the discrimination and violence faced by lesbian women, who are seen as deviants and outcasts.

The film also contrasts the traditional and modern aspects of Japan in the 1950s. The film uses authentic costumes, props and locations to create a realistic atmosphere of the period. The film also uses music and sound effects to enhance the mood and tone of the scenes. For example, the film uses traditional Japanese instruments such as shamisen and koto to underscore the emotional moments between Tsuyako and Yoshie, while using industrial noises such as machines and trains to emphasize the harshness of their environment.

The film also uses cinematography and editing to convey the feelings of the characters. The film uses close-ups and long takes to capture the intimacy and intensity of their relationship, while using wide shots and quick cuts to show their isolation and separation. The film also uses color and lighting to create contrast and symbolism. For example, the film uses warm colors such as red and yellow to represent love and passion, while using cold colors such as blue and gray to represent sadness and oppression.


Tsuyako is a short film that delivers a powerful message about love and loss in post-war Japan. The film showcases the talent of Hikari as a writer, director and producer, as well as the performances of Sachiko Katsumata and Miho Fujima as the lead actors. The film also demonstrates the technical skills of the crew, who created a convincing and immersive world for the story. The film is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates cinema as an art form. c481cea774


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