VIZ Pictures Announces Theatrical Screenings of Award-Winning Hula Girls

Jun 22nd 2007
VIZ PICTURES ANNOUNCES LATEST THEATRICAL SCREENINGS OF AWARD-WINNING FILM
HULA GIRLS

Heartwarming Film Won Four Japanese Academy Awards And Shows How Hard Work And The Hula Dance Inspire A Dying Town

San Francisco, June 22, 2007 – VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of Viz Media LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced a run of special screenings in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles of the celebrated film HULA GIRLS from director Lee Sang-il. The screenings are presented in partnership with VIZ Pictures licensees Fortissimo Films and Cine Qua Non.

HULA GIRLS will screen to press on June 27th at 1:00 p.m. in New York with the general screening taking place July 13-24 at the The ImaginAsian Theater at 239 East 59th St, (@2nd and 3rd Avenues), Chicago, July 13-19, at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 West Fullerton Avenue. For screenings in other cities, check out schedule at www.hulagirls-movie.com.

A heart warming comedy/drama, HULA GIRLS was Japan's official entry to the 2007 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category and also won four Japanese Academy Awards the same year including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.

Based on a true story set in 1965, the desolate and declining mining town of Iwaki in Northern Japan tries to revive itself by building a Hawaiian-themed resort. The featured attraction is to be a hula show, but in this isolated place far from the tropical bliss of Hawaii there are no palm trees or hula dancers. In fact, no one knows how to do the dance or even knows what the hula is! The town leaders invite a dance instructor from Tokyo to teach the local minors' daughters how to hula, but conservative townspeople are initially resistant to the provocative dance. The skepticism and conservatism of the locals is gradually overcome as their daughters fall under the spell of the talented and determined dance instructor from Tokyo.

Once a leading performer, the instructor at first looks down on the coal miners and their amateurish daughters, but the girls' sincere dedication gradually rekindles a passion in her. Each dealing with their own harsh lives, the local girls find a new lease on life and, for the first time, support in their friendships as they absorb the essence of hula dancing. The film has been praised as an enchanting story of women who take once-in-a-lifetime chances to escape their monotonous lives, only to become unwitting heroes to their depressed mining town as well as the whole of Japan.

Born in 1974 in Niigata, Japan, the ethnically Korean Lee Sang-il drew early attention to his talents as a filmmaker with his graduation thesis film BLUE CHONG (1999), which swept an unprecedented four awards at Pia Film Festival, including the Grand Prize. His Pia Scholarship film, BORDER LINE, (2002) won acclaim at festivals worldwide, including a Special Citation at the Vancouver Film Festival. Sang-il's next two films, 69 (2004) and SCRAP HEAVEN (2005), were both cited for Best Actor awards by the Hochi Film Awards and the Kinema Junpo, respectively. While Sang-il had previously developed a strong reputation for his work with male actors, he took on the portrayal of women for the first time in HULA GIRLS, with captivating results.

“HULA GIRLS shows what the power of dance can do to motivate, inspire and give hope and we are pleased to continue our ongoing series of theatrical screenings with these latest dates,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO for VIZ Pictures. “HULA GIRLS swept top honors when it debuted in Japan and has gone on to receive many critical accolades at film festivals internationally. A perfect date or family film, we look forward to audiences connecting to the tenacity and dedication displayed by these women as they try to save their town through the hula!”

About VIZ Pictures, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Pictures, Inc. distributes Japanese live-action films and DVDs, with particular focus on Japanese "kawaii (cute) and cool" pop culture. VIZ Pictures approaches each film release from a J-pop fan's point of view. VIZ Pictures titles include HULA GIRLS, TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO, LINDA LINDA LINDA, THE TASTE OF TEA, and PING PONG. The company will continue to offer the most entertaining live action motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages in North America. VIZ Pictures, Inc. is an affiliate of Viz Media, LLC, the San Francisco-based leading U.S. publisher of Japanese manga (comics) and merchandise licensor of Japanese animation such as the popular "NARUTO" animated TV series.
© 2006 VIZ Pictures, Inc© 2006 VIZ Pictures, Inc

About Viz Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Viz Media, LLC (Viz Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan's largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha, Inc., Shogakukan, Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co, Ltd. (Sho-Pro Japan), Viz Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including, magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs, audio soundtracks and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact Viz Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at www.VIZ.com

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