A Home Within Foreign Borders follows Levy Hideo as he returns to Taichung, Taiwan, for the first time in half a century.
Levy was born in California 1950, and is known as the first Westerner to write original fiction in the Japanese language. From the age of six to ten, he lived with his parents in Taichung, but their separation forced him to leave, and he was never to return, until now. Director Keiko Ōkawa’s camera captures Levy without reserve as he dares to step into the space he once called “home”, at times fumbling uneasily, at times a joyous child reborn.
Ian Hideo Levy (1950–), writing under the name Levy Hideo, is best known as the first Westerner to author literature in the Japanese language. Born to a father of Jewish and mother of Polish descent, Levy spent his early childhood in Taiwan and Hong Kong. At the time he published his debut novel in 1987, he was already respected for his English rendering of Japan’s earliest imperial poetry anthology, Man’yōshū (The Ten Thousand Leaves, 1981), for which he won the National Book Award for Translation. Following the success of his first novel, A Room Where the Star-Spangled Banner Cannot Be Heard, Levy left a tenured position at Stanford University and the English language behind to focus on a writing career in Japanese. In his subsequent novels, essays and travel writing, including Akutagawa Prize nominated Tiananmen (1996), he has continued to probe previously accepted norms and generalizations relating to identity formation, nationality, and what it means to be a writer of Japanese literature.
Keiko Ōkawa (1978–), filmmaker, studied at the Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts. She has since worked on numerous productions, including as editor on Nobuhiro Suwa’s short film Black Hair (2010) and as assistant director on Kyoshi Sugita’s feature film A Song I Remember (2011). Her original works include a documentary following the day-to-day life of Indonesian trainees working at a chemical factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, and the promotional video for a collection of poetry dedicated to sufferers of the Great East Japan Earthquake.