Japanese director Ryo Takeuchi seeks meaning of the Tokyo Olympic Games by talking to Chinese staff, getting warm reaction from netizens
Published: Aug 12, 2021 02:12 AM
Ryo Takeuchi (right) and Ai Fukuhara Photo: screenshot of the documentary

Ryo Takeuchi (right) and Ai Fukuhara Photo: screenshot of the documentary

Japanese documentary director Ryo Takeuchi returned to his home country despite the COVID-19 pandemic to film the Tokyo Olympic Games, finally recording the voices of volunteers, journalists and the host of women’s volleyball. The resulting documentary was released online on Tuesday, to the warm reception of Chinese netizens. 

The title of the documentary Shuangmian Aoyun, or Double-sided Olympics, refers to its aim to allow audiences to see the Olympic games from a different angle. Uploaded to China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Tuesday, the 80-minute-long work has received positive reviews from Chinese netizens, many of whom said that they found it inspiring.

“You have to look for the positive among the negative, so that you can enjoy your work,” Chinese sports journalist Li Xiang tells Takeuchi in the documentary when asked what she thought about the challenges the pandemic posed for the Olympic games. The reply was quoted by many netizens in their reviews of the film.

In the documentary, Takeuchi mainly focuses his lens at the staff behind the scenes at the Games such as volunteers, the media and organizers.

One member of Takeuchi’s film crew told the Global Times that the director arrived in Tokyo on June 6 and spent almost two months filming the Games, including the torch bearing ceremony. 

The documentary reveals the passion of many of those who volunteered at the Games. Ju Xing, one of the volunteers who helped out during the opening ceremony of the Games, told the director he was determined to attend the sports event no matter what challenges stood in his way.

One of the interviewees mentioned the most in reviews is Li Helin, host of the women’s volleyball match in which the Chinese team competed against Italy on August 2.

The match was the last station for the Chinese women’s volleyball team at the Tokyo Olympic Games and also their last battle under head coach Lang Ping, who later said the intends to retire.

After the match, Li grasped the chance to thank the coach and express Chinese people’s support for the team, touching many netizens.

Besides Chinese people, Takeuchi also talked to Japanese table tennis player Ai Fukuhara. Many Chinese netizens said they were impressed by the interview as the two Japanese talked face-to-face in fluent Chinese.

“I really want to shoot the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year. What will happen? Just imagining it makes me feel very excited,” the director said after finishing the shoot at the Summer Olympics.

The Japanese director’s work is not the only documentary about the Games that was released on Tuesday. 

2020+1: Through Pandemic To Olympics, filmed by Xinhua Sports, records the efforts of seven Chinese athletes including table tennis king Ma Long, taekwondo veteran Wu Jingyu and gymnast Xiao Ruoteng as they trained for the Games over the past year and a half. 

The one-hour-long documentary mainly focuses on their training, thoughts and dreams for the Olympics, and how they suffer from pain, fear, homesickness while at the Games.

Many Chinese netizens commented that the documentary allowed them to see the true face of Chinese athletes and gain a deeper understanding of the cruelty and beauty of competitive sports.

“This summer, Chinese athletes’ hard work, enthusiasm, and responsibility at the Olympics should be remembered by the public, but few shots record the bumpy, painful, bitter, and tortuous road they took as they pursued their dreams. This is a good documentary as all the joys and sorrows show the Olympic spirit of these Chinese athletes,” one Chinese netizen wrote on Sina Weibo.