TV and documentary film producer John H. LaDue Jr. has been creating content for Japan’s international public broadcaster NHK for 12 years and, more recently, established the Japan-based film and TV production company Kintsugi Pictures LLC, where he continues to produce news features and documentaries on political, economic and social issues in Japan for NHK World and Nippon TV. His first feature documentary ‘Mommy or Daddy?, has just been released.
How did MOMMY OR DADDY come about?
Someone very close to my sister Jennifer and me, we’ll call him Jerry,
came home one night to find his partner, children, and much of the things in his home gone.
Jennifer and I walked Jerry through the grieving process and stood by him as he tried to gather the broken pieces of his life and start from scratch. Even though both of us grew up in Japan, we had no idea that something like this could happen in a developed nation like Japan.
We soon discovered that it was very common indeed, and a woman, Rie, the main character in the film, who we had gone to high school with, also had lost access to her son for 12 years. After hearing her story, we knew we had to document her journey.
And was it something you’d been researching for a while?
Once we became aware of the situation in 2016, we began researching the subject and interviewing left-behind parents and those who had first-hand experience with losing access to a child, and also people who lost access to a parent when they were children.
Anything you had to learn how to do on the film that you hadn’t done before?
Yes, the animation was completely new to us.
We found a local animator Graham Fleming
who’s artwork we loved and asked him to do the animation, but we didn’t realize how expensive, time-consuming and challenging creating animation could be.
Is it a personal story?
Our close friend is someone who is like a brother, so it definitely became personal to us as well.
Tell me about your cast. How did you know them?
Rie went to high school with us in Tokyo, and I met Ayumi when I was researching people who experienced alienation from a parents when they were children. Ayumi’s NPO weeds is an advocate for children who have lost access to their parents.
It was interesting because when we were filming, we realized that most of the cast and crew, including our cameraman, had experienced separation from either a child or a parent, and were all still dealing with the issues surrounding parental alienation.
And has the film been released anywhere yet?
The film will be released on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Tubi and Vimeo on Demand from Dec 10th.
Where to watch
Japan/ Amazon Prime Beginning December 10th 2022
Amazon Prime, Google Play – Beginning December 10th 2022
Worldwide Vimeo on Demand