The Witches of the Orient

Dir: Julien Faraut
France / 2021 / 100mins

In the Cinema

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Price: £9 (£7 concessions)

Meet the former players of the Japanese women’s volleyball team, known as the ‘Witches of the Orient’ for their seemingly supernatural powers on the courts - including a staggering 258-match winning streak.

Now in their 70s, they reunite around a dinner table, sifting through the facts and fables of their careers - from the early days as a workers’ team at a textile factory in Osaka, up to their triumph at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Director Julien Faraut (John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection), the maverick new master of the archive sports doc, has created a mesmerising portrait of 'the Witches'. Striking 16mm colour reels of the team in training complements previously unseen match footage, which Faraut splices with a montage of vintage manga and anime of the team, all set to a rhythmic original score.

This film is the perfect warm up to your Tokyo 2021 viewing.


On 14 Jul we're hosting a special preview screening followed by an exclusive pre-recorded discussion hosted by Edith Bowman, with director Julien Faraut, Manga expert Paul Gravett and Maria Bertelli, England volleyball player at London 2012 and England volleyball coach.