The Witches of the Orient - volleyball game
The Witches of the Orient - volleyball game
The Witches of the Orient (2021) TMS Entertainment

ACMI presents

Member preview: The Witches of the Orient

Les Sorcières de l’Orient

Julien Faraut | France | 2021 | Unclassified (15+)

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Tue 14 Jun 2022

Julien Faraut (John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection) returns serve with the extraordinary story of the Japanese women’s volleyball team and their dominance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Nothing short of hypnotic, and the big game itself is a masterclass in tension.

Sarah Ward, Concrete Playground

For a spellbinding period from the late 1950s to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, one volleyball team ruled the international competition with a record-breaking undefeated 258-game streak. From their unlikely beginnings as a workers’ team from an Osaka textile factory, the Japanese national women’s team rose to global prominence and were dubbed ‘The Witches of the Orient’ due to their seemingly supernatural powers on the court.

Now in their 70s, the surviving members of the team reminisce on the punishing training drills and wild popularity they experienced, as the film deftly cuts between 16mm archival competition footage, present day interviews and striking scenes from the 1969/70 anime (Attack No.1!) that the ‘Witches’ inspired.

French documentarist Faraut has further honed his specialty in archival sports footage following the highly-acclaimed John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection (2018), once again mining gold from the French Sports Institute archive to tell the story of the 'Witches'. The filmmaker's ability to bridge the connection between sport, cinema and art has been lauded by critics and seen him credited as kickstarting a micro-genre of 'the sports-documentary-that’s-not-really-about-sport' (Variety).

Featuring an original score by American musician Jason Lytle (of indie rock group Grandaddy), The Witches of the Orient is a fascinating and energetic portrait of the women who captured the world’s attention and spawned a pop culture juggernaut still rumbling today.

Format: DCP
Language: In French, Japanese, Russian with English subtitles
Source: Lightdox
Courtesy: Lightdox
Runtime: 100 min

Event duration

100 mins


Unclassified (15+)


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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