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Pulvers' unconventional WWII film 'Star Sand' pushes viewers to find own answers

Roger Pulvers (Mainichi)

It's April 1945 on a small Okinawan island and two deserters -- one Japanese and one American -- meet in a cave. That is the premise for the first feature film written and directed by Roger Pulvers, based on his Japanese-language 2015 novel "Star Sand."

    "The movie doesn't provide any answers," said Pulvers of the tale of the two soldiers and a young girl who ends up looking after them. "I would just like each person who watches it to think about what they would do if they were in the same situation. I believe the role of the arts is to provide people with a perspective that is different from what those in authority might want you to have."

    The author and stage director came to Japan from the United States because he opposed the Vietnam War. He was assistant director to Nagisa Oshima on the 1983 war film "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence." Pulvers first visited Okinawa in 1977, where he was inspired by the "star sands," the accumulation of the shells of single-celled protozoans that live in the ocean depths.

    "Just like the star sand, a single movie is small in size, but it sends a message filled with hope," Pulvers said. "War is the greatest form of violence, but I would like to say 'no' to violence in all forms."

    With the tranquil soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto, the movie doesn't feel quite like other war movies. However, when the wounded elder brother of the Japanese soldier arrives on the island still spouting nationalist rhetoric, a tragedy occurs.

    The word "peace" is hardly mentioned throughout the movie. "I would like (moviegoers) to find it just miraculous that these three characters crossed paths in a time like 1945," said Pulvers.

    The movie stars Lisa Oda, Shinnosuke Mitsushima and Brandon McClelland, and will be shown at Jack & Betty Cinemas in Yokohama through Aug. 25 and Theatre Donuts Okinawa in the city of Okinawa until Aug. 30. The film is also planned to be shown in Osaka this autumn. For more information, visit the official website:

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