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Ema Ryan Yamazaki


Director, Instruments of a Beating Heart

Raised in Osaka, Japan, by a Japanese mother and British father, Ema navigated between Japanese and Western cultures. She uses her unique storytelling perspective as both an insider and an outsider in Japan. Ema’s first feature documentary, Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators (2017), was released worldwide by The Orchard after raising over $186,000 on Kickstarter. It premiered at the LA Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the Nantucket Film Festival.

Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams (2019), Ema’s second feature documentary about the phenomenon of high school baseball in Japan, premiered at DOC NYC. The film aired in primetime on ESPN and was released theatrically in Japan.

Her latest documentary, The Making of a Japanese, premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2023 and is currently playing at festivals and in distribution around the world. It follows one year in a Japanese public school, observing children learn the traits necessary to become part of Japanese society. Renowned sales agent Autlook represents the Japan/USA/France/Finland co-production.

Ema recently served as Editor and Co-Producer for Shiori Ito’s Black Box Diaries, which premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance 2024.