Sophie and the Rising Sun

Director: Maggie Greenwald
Screenwriters: Maggie Greenwald

Institute History

  • 2016 Sundance Film Festival


In the autumn of 1941, Grover Ohta, an educated and gentlemanly first-generation Japanese American, arrives in the small town of Salty Creek, South Carolina. The tight-knit, God-fearing community is unsettled by the “yellow foreigner” and looks upon him with disdain and suspicion. Iconoclastic Sophie, a lonely but comely spinster, is cautiously drawn to Ohta. Connected by their love of painting and each nursing painful memories, the two find themselves attracted to each other. While gossip about Ohta and Sophie’s relationship spreads through the disapproving town, news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor comes, and Ohta becomes even more of a target.

Director Maggie Greenwald returns to the Sundance Film Festival (Songcatcher) with an elegant historical drama and moving love story. Takashi Yamaguchi appealingly plays Ohta, while three strong female characters—and performances—create the driving force of the film: Sophie (Julianne Nicholson), Anne (Margo Martindale), the guarded but kind widow who takes Ohta in, and Salome (Lorraine Toussaint), Anne’s intelligent, all-seeing domestic help. As Southern women unwilling to accept their lot in society, they fight for their beliefs and dignity against an inescapable reality.

— Kim Yutani

Screening Details

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