Yuya Yagira, Haruma Miura, and Kasumi Arimura in “Gift of Fire.”

The highly anticipated “Gift of Fire” tells of Japan’s little-known attempt to build an atomic bomb in the waning days of World War II and screened in theaters across Japan in August.

“Gift of Fire” will run in the Los Angeles area at the Laemmle Glendale from Nov. 19-26 with two special screenings on Nov. 18 at the Laemmle Playhouse in Pasadena and the Royal in West L.A. The film will also screen at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland on Nov. 26.

The film was written and directed by Hiroshi Kurosaki (“Goldfish/Hi no Sakana” and “Second Virgin”), produced by Ko Mori (“Prisoners of the Ghostland,” “Lords of Chaos”), Katsuhiro Tsuchiya (“Oh Lucy!,” “37 Seconds”),Takahiro Hamano (Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning”), and is a co-production between Japanese broadcaster NHK and Eleven Arts Studios. Award-winning composer Nico Muhly (“The Reader”) composed the score. Aeon Entertainment is distributing the film in Japan. The film will have a limited release in the U.S. in November.

“Gift of Fire” stars Yuya Yagira, who won the Cannes award for best actor for his work on Hirokazu Koreeda’s “Nobody Knows.” In “Gift of Fire,” Yagira portrays a young scientist on the Japanese bomb-building team who struggles to honor his obligations to science, his family, his country, and his own morality while working to develop an atomic bomb.  

The Film charts the relationship of the scientist, his younger brother, an air force pilot, played by the late Haruma Miura (“Attack on Titan”), and their lifelong female friend played by Arimori Kasumi (“Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part I – The Final”).

Yagira’s character, as well as the story, is based on the diary of an actual Japanese atomic researcher that was discovered 10 years ago by Kurosaki. Working mainly for NHK, Kurosaki has directed episodes of the smash-hit 2017 NHK drama “Hiyokko.” His script for “Gift of Fire” won a special mention for the 2015 Sundance Institute/NHK Award.

Producer Mori says about creating “Gift of Fire,” “When I first read the script … I didn’t know that during WWII, Japan was developing an atomic bomb alongside the rest of the world. Instead of being a grand WWII film, the story focuses on the intimate details of three youthful characters’ lives. They deal with the same struggles as the rest of us, while also taking part in the life-changing scientific developments of the era and a war of epic proportions. Upon reading the script, I immediately felt that this story needed to be shared.

Yuya Yagira and Haruma Miura in “Gift of Fire.”

“It was difficult to make the film, because particularly in Japan, the film addresses a very difficult subject. Anything related to the atomic bomb is very sensitive to people in both countries, as it should be. WWII was a period of great divide between the U.S. and Japan, and I wanted to produce this film in both countries, to help signify the growth of the collaboration between the two places and cultures, and to look at how far we have come.”

According to director Kurosaki: “‘Gift of Fire’ is a story of youth and the dreams and possibility of science. On one hand, the story reflects the romanticism present when floating on the surface of the ocean and looking up at the starry skies to imagine the vastness of the universe. On the other hand, the story explores the crimes that can be committed in the name of science and discovery, with the backdrop of WWII, but connected to the present. I hope that people all over the world will watch this film and challenge their own ideas about war, youth, science, and love.”

For tickets, go to:

Nov.19-25, Laemmle Glendale: https://www.laemmle.com/film/gift-fire?date=2021-11-19
Nov. 18, Laemmle Playhouse and Royal: https://www.laemmle.com/film/gift-fire
Nov. 26, Portland: https://events.cstpdx.com/product/clinton-st-theater-presents-gift-of-fire-november-26-7-30pm/381

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