Update on “From the Shadows” documentary film

November 18, 2011

A screening of the practically finished version of the “From the Shadows” documentary film about child abduction in Japan took place on November 7 at the Capitol Visitor Center Theater in Washington, D.C.  The screening was sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith’s office and invitees consisted largely of left-behind parents and their family members

“From the Shadows” is a hard hitting, superbly made documentary film that has been years in the making.  It documents the heartbreaking attempts of left-behind parents to see their children in Japan and accurately exposes how the system facilitates child abductions in Japan.  In addition to featuring a Japanese mother whose child was taken by her Japanese husband, the film also focuses in depth on four international cases:  Canadian father Murray Wood, U.S. fathers Paul Toland and Paul Wong, and U.S. mother Regan Haight.

The film is directed and produced by Matt Antell and David Hearn.  Although David Hearn was unable to attend the screening, Matt Antell was present and also participated in a panel afterwards with Paul Toland and Murray Wood, which can be viewed at the following link:


In his remarks, Matt Antell noted that the producers are hoping that the film will be shown at the Berlin International Film Festival and also possibly the Sundance film festival in 2012.

To learn more about the film and how you can help, please visit the following link:


One Response to “Update on “From the Shadows” documentary film”

  1. @Antell, I wanted to write to say that I adamantly disagreed with your statement to NBC that it is “not the norm” for both divorced parents to want to see their children in Japan. It’s actually very normal. There’s hesitation, and it’s a difficult process to decide how joint custody will work, just like in the US. I can verify this by first-hand experience living in Japan and working with the children at my schools. Also, I have many native Japanese friends who verify this fact.
    I feel that the statement you made was simply a miscommunication about the nature of Japanese culture due to the source. In the legal world in Japan, a good lawyer’s “ultimate defense” is to claim that he and his client do not understand the other side. If there is no understanding, then there is no way to proceed. Japanese attorneys believe that, as long as they can put up a convincing argument that they do not understand, they can avoid direct confrontation of the actual issues. It’s best to avoid confrontation of the issues because prosecution usually wins in Japan.

    I hope this helps because a fair trial is a universal sign of modern society, from my standpoint. Not knowing this essential suite basically prevents the major players from entering the ballroom. It’s a little known secret of the Japanese legal system, for foreigners. It’s all but common knowledge for lawyers and young thugs trying to avoid long stints behind. I’m sure that some investigation into the issue will reveal this to be true.
    So, please take some time to consider this and put it to the best use you can. Thank you for the documentary. It was a pleasure viewing it.

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