HotDocs ’24: Black Box Diaries

Black Box Diaries takes us back to 2015 when Shiori Ito, a young woman with great ambitions and hopes for a career in journalism, runs into a story in the worst way possible as she attempts to empower herself by exposing the sexual assault that was committed against her. Facing the scrutiny of the public, Japan’s outdated sex crimes laws and the perpetrator’s political connections, Ito begins to build a personal archive of the events and conversations that lead towards her attempts to convict and hold famed reporter, Noriyuki Yamaguchi, guilty for his crimes.

The film is remarkable simply as a journalistic piece as Ito dared to record video and audio of imperative conversations that she had with the police and witnesses to the case. This is well-edited against the backdrop of information needed to be communicated about Japan’s political situation and the laws that protect Yamaguchi from the criminal case that Ito continually tries to push. This results in her taking dramatic action as she goes public with her accusations, setting the stage for a public media battle between her and Yamaguchi.

The coverage of this case is extensive and keeps the audience within Ito’s fight, which is not only for her but for every victim of sexual violence in Japan (and the world, as this film tries to show). This, combined with vulnerable self-documentation and writing from Ito herself, reveals her struggle to overcome the wounds and memories of the horrific incident, all the while displaying fierce courage and maintaining a sense of humor through the whole ordeal. It is an excellent as a piece of journalistic true crime, that tells a personal story and an indictment of a country’s political situation all at once. What’s more, it is a very necessary film that needs to be shown around the world.

Black Box Diaries is available at HotDocs ’24. For more information, click here.

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