Fighting Spirit in Baseball Films
August 21, 6:30 PM – 9:40 PM (with short intermission)
Director Umin Boya, 2014 (185 min.)
In conjunction with the U-18 Baseball World Cup taking place in Thunderbay from September 1 – 10, 2017, we will have a screening of the epic baseball drama Kano directed by Umin Boya and produced by Jimmy Huang and Wei Te-sheng. The film depicts the true story of the multi-ethnic baseball team KANO (Kagi Norin High school) during Japanese-era Taiwan who overcome extreme odds to represent the island in the 1931 Japanese High School Baseball Championship, known as Koshien in Hyogo Japan.
The film stars Masatoshi Nagase as Hyotaro Kondo, who coaches an underdog multi-ethnic high school team comprising Taiwanese aborigines, Han Taiwanese and Japanese players. The team’s star pitcher, Akira Go, is played by Yu-Ning Tsao, who won a Best Supporting Actor award at the 2014 Taipei Film Festival for his performance in the film.
The film also won Audience Awards from the Golden Horse Film Festival (where it also won a FIPRESCI Prize), the Taipei Film Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival. Kano is also the 6th highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time.
The film also coincides with the annual TaiwanFEST: Kanpai Japan! at the Harborfront Centre in Toronto from August 25 – 27 and Sept 2 – 4 in Vancouver.
Fighting Spirit in Baseball Films: Kokoyakyu (August 31) information here >
In 1928 when Taiwan was under Japanese rule, the Kagi Agriculture and Forestry Public School (a.k.a KANO, short for its Japanese name KAGI-NORIN School) was established to help develop the local agricultural potential. The KANO baseball team started out simply as a sports club to improve the students’ physique. It never occurred to the team that the arrival of Coach Kondo would completely transform them and help them leave a legacy that eventually became a legend. To every young baseball player, Koshien (Japan’s high school baseball championship) is a dream palace. For a group of farmer boys like the KANO team, it was a goal far beyond their reach, but Kondo endeavored to make it possible. He gave the players extremely rigorous training and made the best use of the team’s multiethnic composition—Japanese, Taiwanese and aboriginals—by appreciating their specific strengths. After a year of intense training, the team was highly motivated and their determination to win got stronger even after numerous defeats. Much to everyone’s surprise, this previously unknown team finally won the local championship and proudly marched into Koshien. Playing at Koshien in front of 55,000 viewers was a dream-come-true not only for the KANO team but for Kondo as well.
Facing the strongest opposing team, the KANO boys were struggling in the final game. The situation got tougher when their ace pitcher was wounded. Nonetheless the KANO boys showed true team spirit by rising to the challenge together as one. Burning their passion for baseball, these farmer boys from southern Taiwan just refused to surrender . . .
Baseball (Yakyu in Japanese) is beloved and treasured by Taiwanese people as our most important sport. In addition to the glory and fame, baseball comforts the Taiwanese amid social strife and unrest.
I chose to film the story of the KANO baseball team because it is a singular historical event directly linked with Taiwan’s baseball development. It marked the starting point of baseball talent cultivation and local sport promotion. Most of all, they were the first truly multi-ethnic baseball team in Taiwan under the colonial rule. Such composition demonstrates that when people have a common goal in sight, they can put aside their differences of all sorts and unite through mutual understanding, respect, and tolerance. The film not only helps us we relive the glorious chapter in Taiwan’s baseball history but also enables us to recall common memories in life through the friendship and family bonds depicted in the story.