This week the Gene Siskel Film Center presents two encore screenings of Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski’s locally produced indie drama The First Breath of Tengan Rei, with the writer-directors in attendance. The movie, about a Japanese woman who’s raped by two U.S. soldiers in Okinawa and tracks them down in Chicago for some payback, premiered in town at the Film Center last November.
Koziarski, a Reader contributor, made his first film as a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he studied journalism and creative writing. Kajino, a graduate of the directing program at Columbia College, was in Yellow Springs at the time, working on Ed Radtke’s feature The Dream Catcher, and met Koziarski on the set of his film. Now married, the couple have collaborated on numerous local projects, though The First Breath of Tengan Rei is their debut feature as writer-directors.
Part of the movie was shot at Big Works, the Logan Square studio owned by their production designer, David Christopher Krause; the grim riverside sequences were shot at 27th and Ashland. Erika, who plays the vengeful title character, is a Japanese actress best known for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life, though the cast also includes local talents Sean Nix, who’s appeared in productions at TimeLine Theatre Company and Victory Gardens, and Ric Arthur, a real-life marine in Okinawa who’s appeared at Urban Theater Company.
The First Breath of Tengan Rei screens Saturday, January 3, at 8 PM and Wednesday, January 7, at 7:45 PM. The Film Center is located at 164 N. State; for more information call 312-846-2600.