Gaea Girls | Chicago Reader

Gaea Girls

Documentarian Kim Longinotto (Divorce Iranian Style) teams up with Jano Williams to portray the clandestine world of Japanese female wrestling (2000). Allowed into a training compound run by seasoned professional wrestler Chigusa Nagayo, one of the top stars in Japan, Longinotto and Williams chronicle in excruciating detail the rigorous physical regimen endured by trainees completing a one-year program. If they're successful—and few are—they'll join one of Japan's more rarefied subcultures. The filmmakers build their story in a way that's more compelling and suspenseful than many narrative films. Will the driven Takeuchi pass the test? Will Wakabayashi, who ran away once before, be able to stay with the program? Is Nagayo, the autocratic yet benevolent leader, teaching tough out of necessity or because she was emotionally wounded by her bullying father? Longinotto and Williams's ability to penetrate facades is remarkable. 106 min.

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