Where but into the sea

In September 1939, Maria Kamm (née Weyland, 1920-2019) and Marcel Weyland (born in 1927) fled their hometown of Łódź during the Nazi invasion of Poland and began a journey into the unknown. After staying in Lithuania, they got on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Vladivostok, and then on board a Japanese steamboat which took them to Tsuruga Bay, Japan. They were forced to live in Kobe, Japan and in Shanghai, China before finding at last peaceful places to live in Sydney and Melbourne. An accidental encounter between a Japanese historical investigator (Kenji Kanno) and Maria set in motion the creation of this film, which traces the siblings’ journey of escape from persecution and internment during WWII. The documentary gives life to stories which remain in places left behind, but not forgotten. Pondering the Jewish diaspora, this film also illuminates the serendipitous fortune created by shared hands: Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, and Australian peoples intersected in a miracle of survival. The film asks a question that is as true for refugees today as it was during the Second World War: “where but into the sea?” The film brings to light the gift of humanitarian aid, which is vital regardless of the era.

  • Mirai Osawa
  • Kenji Kanno
    Writer / Historical investigation
  • Kiyoshi Sekiguchi
  • Rachel Walls
  • Keiko Miyamori
  • Henning Schmiedt
  • HWANG Young Chang
    Sound Mixing
  • Kenta Tawara
    Color Correction
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 11 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 27, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    11,000,000 JPY
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, China, Japan
  • Language:
    Chinese, English, Japanese, Yiddish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • The Jewish International Film Festival
    October 20, 2021
    Australia Premiere
    Official Sellection
Director Biography - Mirai Osawa

Born in 1981 in Tokyo, Mirai Osawa completed studies in documentary filmmaking at the Film School of Tokyo . He has since been involved in directing documentary movies and television programs, as well as cinematography work for a range of projects, including installations and video productions. Mirai participated in the "Memory Project of the Earthquake" of Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture. His work, “To the Future -Five years after the Earthquake” received an award of the age of regionalism video festival 2016. Major works include "Horse and Human", "Kikyou – The days spent with Ogawa Shinsuke" which screened at Yamagata international film festival 2005. His first theatrical release, "Mawari Kagura,” (2018) is a feature film about a Kagura troupe traveling through the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and its relationship with people, animals, and nature. "Mawari Kagura" won the prestigious Documentary Film Award, the highest award for documentary films in Japan's longest running film festival, the 73rd Mainichi Film Awards.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2001, I have been motivated to create films that focus on the mindset of individuals who persistently choose to live in places where great Tsunamis sometime wreak havoc. “Where but into the sea” gave me an opportunity to consider a theme quite contrary to this one; the condition of people forced to leave their own land despite their wish to live there forever. Stories of Jewish refugees in films often depict people as ‘leaves carried by the wind’. I tried to shed a fresh light on those stories by adding multi-layered viewpoints from Japanese and Chinese people involved. Along with Kenji Kanno, a Jewish historian, I have journeyed to trace back memories and places that belong to individual Jewish refugees. Filming places they had once tracked through, collecting ephemeral memories like inherited songs, poems, forgotten images and untold stories together. During the process, we continuously asked where the place is at which our souls reside. In seeking to find a home for these lost places and memories and things, the film has become a meeting place between conventional film and modern art. I really hope that this film could be a piece which encompasses the “journey to nowhere” for the “refugees and displaced persons” in modern society with warmth and sensitivity.