SEARCHING FOR ONODA IS A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT OFFICER HIROO ONODA AND HIS THIRTY YEAR WAR ON LUBANG ISLAND IN THE PHILIPPINES.
IN 1974, WWII OFFICER HIROO ONODA MADE INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES WHEN HE EMERGED FROM PHILIPPINE JUNGLE, CLAIMING TO NOT KNOW THE WAR WAS OVER, HE WAS RETURNED TO JAPAN AND HAILED AS A NATIONAL HERO. AFTER LEARNING OF HER FAMILY CONNECTION TO THIS BIZARRE STORY, FILIPINO-AUSTRALIAN FILMMAKER MIA EMBARKS ON A JOURNEY, SPANNING DECADES, TO MEET ONODA. WHAT SHE DISCOVERS IS THE UNTOLD STORIES FROM HER OWN FAMILY ABOUT THIS SO CALLED HERO THEY KNEW AS THE DEVIL OF THE MOUNTAINS.
Stewart gives the vast majority of the run time to firsthand testimonies and oral histories of the people in Lubang. Her interviewees’ faces are recorded within feet of the camera operator (often Stewart herself), center frame, and stare directly into the lens. Unlike Harari, Stewart cannot so readily leave the story behind and is driven to finally show audiences what happened from her family’s side.
By A.E. Hunt
International Documentary Association
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