All Images Copyright Cine Qua Non 2006
In association with HAPPINET and S*D*P
Based on a true story, the film is set in the mid-1960s. Japan was undergoing a major shift from coal to petroleum for its primary energy source and many mining towns were closing down. In the town of Iwaki, about a three hour train ride up the east coast of Japan's main island from Tokyo, the Joban coal-mine was due to layoff 2,000 employees. However, in addition to coal, the town had hot springs, and management decided to create a spa resort with an Hawaiian theme, the Pacific islands being a popular vacation destination for many Japanese.
But to pull this off, the planned Joban Hawaiian Center needed hula dancers, and management sought them from the local population. Madoka Hirayama (actress Yasuko Matsuyuki), a professional dancer, is brought in from Tokyo to train these coal miners' daughters.
The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of Kumiko (Yu Aoi), who emerges as the leader, and her fellow would-be hula dancers. They have to overcome the initial condescension of their instructor, the opposition of many of their family and friends, and their own lack of talent and experience.
Hula Girls is an uplifting drama leavened with deft comic touches. Viz Pictures, the live-action film affiliate of Viz Media LLC, a leading publisher of Japanese animation and comics, will be presenting the film in a limited theatrical release in seven cities in the U.S. in July. A DVD is scheduled to be released in the November 2007. So if you can't see it in a theater, be sure to check it out on DVD.
Hula Girls - IMDb
Sang-il Lee, director - IMDb
Yu Aoi, actress (Kimiko Tanikawa) - IMDb
Yasuko Matsuyuki, actress (Madoka Hirayama) - IMDb
Shizuyo Yamazaki, actress (Sayuri Kumano) - IMDb
Etsushi Toyokawa, actor (Yojiro Tanikawa) - IMDb