The director, who was himself brainwashed, has a strong desire to confront the “religious abuse”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The director, who was himself brainwashed, has a strong desire to confront the “religious abuse”.

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A single word in the suicide note of a “religious Nisei” who was a friend…

The existence of “second-generation religious leaders” has come to the forefront of attention in the wake of the attack on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A controversial film based on the will of a second-generation religious leader and directed by a friend of the leader, who himself was brainwashed by a new religion, has appeared in the market. The film is called “Yurushi.

The story is based on a will left by a second-generation religious leader… “Yurushi” is scheduled to open at UPLINK Kichijoji on March 22 (Friday) (©”Yurushi” Production Committee).

The film is directed by and stars Urara Hirata, 22, who was still a student at Rikkyo University at the time. Why in the world did she make this film? We asked her about the impetus for the project and her thoughts on the film.

The reason was that my friend A-chan, whom I met through a new religion I had joined for a while, committed suicide, leaving behind a suicide note. We were good friends throughout the time we attended the meetings, and we went out to eat together. When I felt uncomfortable and opposed to the group and the group distanced themselves from me, she would secretly send me a line asking if I was okay.

With the support of her family and other factors, Hirata managed to leave the church after 11 months, but she was concerned about her only friend, A-chan, who was also a second-generation member of the religion.

She herself was a second-generation religious believer, but she had lived with a sense of discomfort, so she understood how hard it was for me.

But once you leave the church, even family members find it difficult to contact believers, so there were quite a few cases where the second generation also committed suicide, saying that their mother had died and their life was taken away from them. The second generation also had a sense of discomfort. There were some second-generation people who felt uncomfortable, but there are quite a few who cannot escape because they are afraid of abuse and discrimination, and they cannot give up their love for their parents.

The cult will tear families apart if they don’t have faith in God, and in some cases, if a family member leaves, the remaining family members are abused.”

At that time, when Hirata heard a rumor that Mr. A had committed suicide, he was terribly upset and blamed himself.

She said, “A-chan understood my feelings and supported me, but because I abandoned her and left her behind, I felt like I had really lost my place.”

A second-generation religious person whose parents were “stolen from her by the cult” the moment she was born.

Hirata-san kept calling followers who had been in the cult to find out what had happened, and when he finally got in touch with them, he was told that there was a suicide note.

‘There was one word that inspired me to make the film. The believer said, “It’s that girl’s interpretation. The abuse caused by the cult’s teachings took a person’s life, but it’s that kid’s interpretation. What is God’s love, what is salvation?”

Hirata emphasizes that he never wants to use the word “suicide,” and that it is “suicide” because he did not kill himself, but was driven to death.

The moment A-chan is born, the cult steals her parents away from her. After she was born, she was deprived of her freedom. After that, they take away your friends, your livelihood, your life, and even your life, and you don’t call it suicide.”

Hirata says she fell asleep for a while after learning of Mr. A’s suicide.

However, she decided to make a film because she felt that “if I did not deliver the thoughts and feelings that were written in Ms. A’s suicide note, her life would also be forgotten.

He began his interviews in October ’21.

She started by following Nisei religious people on Twitter (now Twitter) and requesting interviews via DM, then connected with the “Religious Nisei Association,” and asked Nisei she met there to introduce her to other Nisei.

I don’t want to deny religion. But as I interviewed people, I realized that no matter what religion, as long as there are people who are hurt, we should listen to their voices,” said Hirata (PHOTO: Ayumi Kagami).

The attack on former Prime Minister Abe… “When I learned that it was related to the Unification Church, I honestly found myself thinking, ‘Finally, it has happened.'”

Furthermore, after the attack on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he says, he began to receive many contacts asking him to cover the incident.

Of course, you can’t kill people for any reason, and I was deeply moved by that tragic incident. But when I found out that it was related to the Unification Church, I honestly thought to myself, ‘Finally, it has happened.

In my interviews, there were second-generation Unification Association members who were lamenting that the government was not on their side, and I didn’t understand what that meant at the time, but when that incident happened and I read Eight Suzuki’s book, I felt like everything was connected.

Hirata, who has interviewed a total of about 300 second-generation religious believers in numerous new religious groups, says that all of them have one thing in common: “Religious abuse is not only a form of sexual abuse, but also a form of sexual victimization.

In the case of religious abuse, there is always some kind of criminal activity going on, such as sexual abuse, abuse, and taking care of the guru,” she said. And, what cults have in common is that they “have charismatics,” “squeeze money out of people in some way,” and “make their own chants and bibles. “. I am not trying to denigrate religion. But as I interviewed people, I realized that no matter what religion, as long as there are people who are being hurt, we should listen to their voices.”

Furthermore, as he continued his interviews, he said, “A-chan is not my sole responsibility, either. I was killed by this tragic religious abuse,” and while this lightened her heart, she also felt such self-blame.

When filming began, trouble followed.

The lead actor had to drop out twice because of the sensitive nature of the film. Even so, as a human being, I felt I had to deliver this film. So I got down on my knees to the sponsors and asked them, ‘I will play the lead role instead of you, so please give me the money for this commitment.

Incidentally, Nanako Ando, who plays Megumi, the mother of the main character Suzu and a first-generation religious woman, left a very strong impression on me in the movie.

In fact, she played the mother even though her actual age is two years older than Ms. Hirata’s. “Ms. Ando originally auditioned for the role of Suzu,” said Ms. Hirata.

Ms. Ando originally came in to audition for the role of Suzu, but I said, ‘It’s definitely Megumi! I thought, ‘Megumi for sure! She is usually very bright and beautiful, but when she showed me her performance at the audition, her eyes were really scary.

Suzu is supposed to be pitiful, but I felt rather terrified. She had played the role of a high school student in the previous film, and she was puzzled, saying, ‘You’re suddenly the mother of a high school student?’ But I said, ‘It was unanimous, so can I ask you to do it?

So I hired only a makeup artist who could do aging makeup, but even then she didn’t age completely. I think that was good because it gave the film an eerie and scary feeling of not knowing one’s age.

The scene where the parents point a knife at her and the rape scene are all things I heard in the interviews, and all of them are not lies.

More than 300 second-generation religious people helped us with interviews, introduced us to people, and supported us with donations…

The film depicts Suzu being taken to Megumi’s missionary work when she was a small child, the marathon, her birthday, and bullying at school, all of which are actual episodes heard through interviews with Nisei.

He said, “In addition, the scene where the parents point a knife at him, the rape scene, etc., are all stories that I heard in interviews, and they are all untrue. I used individual episodes and lines that I actually heard while asking for permission.”

More than 300 second-generation religious people cooperated in the interviews, introduced me to people, and donated money to support the film, which was made as a tribute to the late Mr. A. “I changed the lead actor twice, but I was able to make it through the film.

The lead actor changed roles twice, but when I said I would play the lead role, the film raised a lot of money. They said they had never seen a director with such determination, and there were so many people who supported me.

So I was able to make it into a feature film. I joined a religion that regarded everyone as Satan except believers of the same religion, so at the time, when people around me said things like that, I was stubborn and thought, “Satan is talking. But now I realize that people are not so bad and that I am not Satan at all (laughs).

The film will open at UPLINK Kichijoji on March 22. Hirata-san revealed that there had been a lot of harassment and slander leading up to this point, and said with a smile, “There are still a few days left until the film opens.

There are still a few days until the film’s release, and I’m afraid to go on stage every day to greet the audience. They also tell me to carry tear gas. But I can fight because I absolutely believe that I have done nothing wrong.

In the second part of ” ‘Thanks to God, I’m here at this company…’ I met a believer in a new religion during an alumni visit…”, we interviewed Mr. Hirata about his own story of joining and leaving a religious organization.

The film is scheduled to open at UPLINK Kichijoji on Friday, March 22, 2011. Other sequential screenings throughout Japan.
  • Interview and text by Wakako Takou PHOTO (interview) Ayumi Kagami

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