FILM: On Friday, July 13th, 2012, I went to the U.S. premiere of Corações Sujos (Dirty Hearts) at the Museum of Modern Art. It was a part of the 10th annual Premiere Brazil! festival. Based on the novel by Fernando Morais, the film was directed by Brazilian filmmaker Vicente Amorim and featured Tsuyoshi Ihara, Takako Tokiwa and Eduardo Moscovis. One of the producers was Oliver Kwon, a Harvard Business School classmate.
It’s a powerful story about a part of history many people don’t know – the chaos in Brazil’s sizable Japanese immigrant population in the 1940s following Japan’s World War II loss. Set in São Paulo, the Japanese immigrants are treated like second-class citizens by the native Brazilians. Even worse, the community itself becomes divided into two groups: those who accept the defeat and those who do not. Those who do not believe that Japan has been defeated continue to honor their homeland by clinging to the samurai chivalry and yamato (Japanese) spirit so much that it turns into terrorism. They hunt down and assassinate the few Japanese who accept the truth.
Dirty Hearts tells this story as seen through the eyes of a woman whose husband – a hard-working immigrant who loves her deeply – succumbs to nationalism and fanaticism in preaching Japan’s victory. Little by little, she watches him become an assassin and their love story fade away. The tenderness and passion the husband demonstrates at the beginning of the film is juxtaposed by the horrific nature of his killings at the end. To me, the film showed how someone with a good heart can turn dirty through the power of persuasion and propaganda.
Although the violence can be brutal at times, the film offers a thought-provoking journey through history and the complexities of human nature. I highly recommend checking it out. It airs again at MoMA on July 23rd and the director will be present.
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.
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