37 Stories About Leaving Home
1996, in Japanese & English, 52 minutes

Texts | Images | Video

In this award winning documentary, Shelly Silver presents an intimate portrait of a group of Japanese women ranging in age from 15 to 82, talking about their lives, families and society. In these stories one can begin to see, from very personal and individual perspectives, the societal changes that have occurred over the last three generations for women in Japan, bringing an exciting and often conflicting array of choices and positions. Many of the stories revolve around the relationships these grandmothers, mothers and daughters have with each other, filled with respect, rebellion, loss and love.

Mixing childhood memories, frank statements, epic events and quotidian details; the film bears witness to the strength of these women and the difficulty of their choices, as they navigate between personal needs and familial and societal pressures. 

The interviews are framed by a traditional Japanese folktale; a magical and somewhat shocking narrative of a mother's search for her abducted daughter, kidnapped by a monster on the eve of her wedding.

"Subtle and insightful...highlighting the competing demands of tradition and personal freedom. Silver presents a remarkable portrait of a culture about to experience seismic social change." –– Steven Bode, National Film Theatre, London

"A beautiful film." –– Margarethe von Trotta

written, directed, and edited: Shelly Silver
music: Lefdup & Lefdup.
interpreters: Abbie Beichman, Kirara Kawauchi, Shiomi Nozawa, Lisa Spalding
voiceovers: Yasuko Shimizu, Tracy Leipold
mother's face: Fusako Hasae
daughter's face: Anne Hasae
assistant editor: Daiho Tsuruoko. 
editing assistant: Yumiko Murakami
on-line editor: Adam Fuster at Broadway Video through the Stand-By Program.
sound mix: Bill Seery at Mercer Street Sound
subtitling: Linda Hoaglund
archival material: The National Archives, Hiroko Murakami, Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University
funded in part by:  The Japanese/U.S. Friendship Commission, The Japan Foundation

selected exhibitions & screenings
With Western Eyes, Japan Society, Rome, Italy
Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
We Are Someplace Else Already, Swiss Institute, NY
Just Watch, Shedhalle, Zurich, Switzerland
New Documentaries, The Museum of Modern Art, NY
The Venice Biennale, Italy & Sonnabend Gallery, NYC as part of Haim Steinbach's Installation Mothers, Daughters, Grandmothers
The National Film Theatre, London, England
L'Immagine E L'Oggetto, Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Rome
Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley, CA
Singapore International Film Festival
FemmeTotale Film Festival, Dortmund, Germany
Pesaro International Film Festival, Italy
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
MedienOperative, Berlin, Germany
experiMENTAL, Kino Xenix, Zurich, Switzerland
Image Forum Festival , Tokyo, Osaka, Japan
Galerie Alte Kaserne, Zitadelle, Berlin, Germany

The Golden Dove for Best Long Form Documentary & The Ecumenical Prize for Best Documentary, 
The Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival, Germany

selected broadcasts
Kunstkanaal/The Art Channel, The Netherlands