The Neighbourly TOMODACHI


Cecilia Ami Kitajima


すぐそばにいたTOMODACHIMany countries offered hands to help and sent rescue teams to Japan for the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th. The rescue effort by the US was named Operation Tomodachi. While many foreigners living in Japan left, 95 Burmese living in Japan visited the disaster struck area to volunteer their services for cleaning and cooking. We rarely notice Burmese who left their country and came here seeking protection in our daily lives. They have suffered enough in their own country under the dictatorship, and now they’re struggling with restrictions of the refugee system in Japan, but yet, they are willing to offer their help and volunteer. Who would have guessed that they could be such good friends? What is it that driving them? A Burmese woman dreaming of being reunited with her mother someday joined the volunteer service. Why does she feel like she had to help? She speaks of her parents’ teachings to care for others and her complex feelings for her home country. Under difficult circumstance, I followed them for three years and captured their way of life.
Title in English The Neighbourly TOMODACHI
Title in Original Language すぐそばにいたTOMODACHI
Director(s) Cecilia Ami Kitajima
Director's Bio/Filmography Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kitajima worked as an assistant director and a script supervisor before directing a short Sono te wo kudasai. Her project has been presented at SKIP City and Tokyo International Film Festival. Her documentary short Voices of Migrants in Japan was screened at Migrants Film Festival in 2009. The Neighbourly TOMODACHI also screens at the 6th Refugee Film Festival in Japan as an opening film, Yamagata International Film Festival, Human Cinema Festival and others around Japan. After, she plans herself to make an event Dhaka Rickshaw Race in Dhaka, Bangladesh and made two documentaries "Dreams for the Rickshaw Race" and "A Wider Circle of Rickshaw Race", Also made an art documentary"Bangladesh Project 2014 A Message from the river".
Year of Completion 2011
Nationality of the Film Japan
Running Time 95 min.
Aspect Ratio Video: 16:9
Color Color
Shooting Locations Tokyo, Ishinomaki City and Tagajo City (Miyagi)
Shooting Dates/Periods 2006 - April, 2011
Names of Characters
Language of Commentary and Dialogue Japanese,
Subtitles English,
Date of First Public Screening 2011/10/7
Place of First Public Screening (Country) Japan
Date of First Public Screening in Japan 2011/10/7
Previous Screenings at Other Film Festivals and Events The 6th UNHCR Refugee Film Festival, Motomachi Eigakan, Amnesty Event (Mito, Fukushima), Earth Festa Kanagawa 2012, 2012 World Refugee Day Exhibition in Thailand, Film S how in Ishinomaki, Multicultural Film Festival (Nagoya University), Sakai City Peace and Human Rights Museum (Film show), Human Cinema Festival 2012, Tokyo Economy University, Aichi Seto city Center 2014, Multicultural Film Festival 2014
Staff Credits Photography: Cecilia Ami Kitajima
Editing: Cecilia Ami Kitajima
Producer Cecilia Ami Kitajima
Distributor / Distribution Company Cecilia Ami Kitajima
Official Website for the Film
Other Online Access to the film
Screenings at the Past YIDFF Programs and Events YIDFF 2011