“Hafu” was inspired by the Hafu Project, an exploration of the experiences and identities of mixed-Japanese people through portrait photographs and in-depth interviews. Launched in London in 2008 by social researcher Marcia Yumi Lise and photographer Natalie Maya Willer, the Hafu Project probes the half-Japanese experience by asking what it means to be half-Japanese inside and outside of Japan. To date, the project has collected 130 portraits and 65 extensive interviews, exploring topics ranging from background and upbringing to personal identity and sense of belonging. Since launching the Hafu Project, Marcia’s and Natalie’s work has been showcased at numerous exhibitions around the world (London, Tokyo, Kobe, San Francisco) with the support of the Japanese Embassy and other cultural organizations.
In 2009, filmmakers Lara Perez Takagi and Megumi Nishikura met Marcia and Natalie when they came to expand their project in Japan. Noticing the lack of media attention on hafus and exhausted by the superficial adoration of hafu celebrities on television, Megumi and Lara set out to produce the first ever broadcast-able documentary feature film about hafus, and made by hafus.
Production of the film began in 2010 as a labor of love and quickly grew into an expansive grassroots movement. Through social media and preview fundraisers, the film team quickly transformed its modest production into an collaborative community of volunteers. Many of the key creative elements, such as music and motion graphics, were contributed by hafu artists. In the short time since its inception, the film has received international attention from Japanese, English, and Spanish speaking media outlets. See our Press page to view the articles.
After initially funding “Hafu ” out of their own pockets, in 2011 Lara and Megumi launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to cover additional production costs. They reached their project goal of $10,000 in 5 days and went on to raise an additional $14,000 over the remaining days of the campaign. Additionally, the film has received financial support from the Japan Foundation and the Center for Asian American Media, which is funded by the Center for Public Broadcasting.
“Hafu ” is currently being submitted to film festivals both within Japan and internationally. Please check the Screenings and Events page for the next screening date. Ultimately, Megumi and Lara aim to broadcast the film on television in Japan, the US, and elsewhere.