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Julia Morizawa’s ‘Dragonfly’ to Premiere at 39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

The short, part of the festival’s May 7 ‘Lost and Found’ animation program, tells a young girl’s story of discovering her mother’s survival of the 1945 Tokyo Firebombing.

Writer/producer/actor Julia Morizawa’s 2D animated short film Dragonfly makes its Los Angeles premiere at the 39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on Sunday, May 7, 8 PM, at the Japanese American National Museum. The short screens as part of the “Lost and Found” animation program, featuring films depicting discarded dreams, forgotten memories, and missing pieces.

Dragonfly tells the story of a young girl who learns, through the eyes of her brother’s spirit, of her mother’s survival of the Tokyo Firebombing on March 9-10, 1945. The film opens in Komoro, Japan, 1956, where 10-year-old Sumiko chases a red dragonfly through her family’s farm while her mother, Yoshiko, watches from a distance. Flashback to Tokyo, 1945 - Yoshiko, her husband, Susumu, and their baby boy, Kiyoshi, are forced to evacuate their home when hundreds of B-29 bombers dropped incendiary bombs on the city, which erupted into a massive firestorm.

In 2019, Morizawa’s script was recognized by Scriptation Showcase and Screenwriting Master, receiving the “Best Short Screenplay Award.” It was also honored at competitions, including the Austin Film Festival, Slamdance, and WeScreenplay Diverse Voice as a semifinalist or quarterfinalist.

Morizawa’s maternal grandparents inspired the film’s story. While researching her family heritage, her mother, Sumiko, offered very little information about her grandparents’ life during WWII, except that they lived in Tokyo when fire forced them back to the family farm in Komoro. It wasn’t until Morizawa began researching fires in Tokyo in the 1940s that she learned about the firebombing and the immense tragedy. So, in addition to paying homage to the grandparents she never met, Morizawa’s film raises awareness about the largely unknown historical event.

Brian Sturges, James Babbin, John Titchenal, Lucas A. Ferrara, Derek Kolterman, and Christopher Luk serve as executive producers on the film. Maria Marta Linero is the animation director, with Eva Benitez the lead animator. The music is composed by Aiko Fukushima, and the sound design by Giorgia Garcia-Moreno. The voice talent includes Morizawa, Erika Ishii, Miya Kodama, and Thomas Isao Morinaka.

Dragonfly will screen on Sunday, May 7 at 8 PM at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 North Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Ticket information is available here.

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.