An inspiring story that goes beyond the world of sports and shows us volleyball like we’ve never seen it before. In the 1960s, the players of the Japanese female volleyball team were known as the "witches of the Orient” for their supernatural powers on the court. The team was so popular that several anime series and manga magazines were based on them. Today, those agile players are in their 70s and their delicate bodies conceal an epic past that few know about.
Julien Faraut's film combines their testimonies with unseen archive footage of extremely intense training sessions. The fast-paced editing, amazing anime excerpts and the soundtrack by French musician K-Raw do justice to the players’ talent.
The exultant final of the Olympic Games 1964 - the first time volleyball was an Olympic sport - against Russia in Tokyo marked several generations of Japanese who were still suffering from the wounds of World War II. The documentary captures the excitement of that final in an incomparable way.
The Witches of the Orient also delivers a fascinating image of a post-WW2 world. And we should thank the makers for taking us on this entertaining, educative and epic journey.— Nicole Santé · Business Doc Europe
Julien Faraut’s film tells an entirely different story, painting a fascinating portrait of the emblematic, collective strength of character shown by these endearing women, who knock the ball out of the court before winning the final point.— Fabien Lemercier · Cineuropa
The film is at its most strikingly effective when the editors alternate quickly between one archival source and another, emulating the lightning-paced brilliance displayed on court.— Neil Young · Screen Daily