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‘Haikus on a Plum Tree’ Uses Puppets to Recount History

'Haikus on a Plum Tree' Uses Puppets to Recount History

Here’s your daily dose of an indie film in progress — at the end of the week, you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

Haikus on a Plum Tree

Logline: A film about my Italian family’s imprisonment in a Japanese war camp during WWII, blending documentary, puppetry & family history.

Elevator Pitch: My film touches upon a still obscure chapter in Japanese history, and does so through the extraordinary experience of the Marainis, a family of important cultural influence in Italy and beyond. My mother, Toni Maraini, and my aunt, acclaimed Italian author Dacia Maraini, were only 2 and 7 years old when they entered the first prison camp in 1943 with their parents, anthropologist Fosco Maraini and Princess Topazia Alliata. My grandmother Topazia’s war diary is the only known and published account of an Italian woman in one of those camps.

Production Team: 

Mujah Maraini-Melehi, Director/Writer/Producer
Deborah Belford de Furia, Co-writer
Maura Morales Bergmann, Cinematographer
Susanna Scarpa, Editor

About the Film: Every child of a survivor understands that there are wounds and responsibilities that find their way to the next generation. In the camp, my grandfather chopped off his finger with an ax, an act that probably saved his family and one that has always both terrified and fascinated me. I grew up listening to this and other family anecdotes — powerful, profound stories of hunger, courage, honor and sacrifice. Through a blend of documentary, puppetry and family history, I want to tell the extraordinary story of my family’s survival and what that legacy means to me today.

Current Status: Fundraising on Kickstarter

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This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit and tagged


Geraldine Farrell

Sounds fascinating and would love to see this film.


È un progetto bellissimo. Spero che al mio sostegno si aggiunga quello di molti altri.

Germana Cazzato

Un progetto molto bello e interessante, spero che abbia il sostegno e il successo che merita

Selvaggia Wild

Great project!

Cate Masters

Sounds like a fantastic story and inventive presentation. Would love to see this!

Jessica Edwards

Definitely! I am looking forward to seeing this film!

Gigi Goild

Yes it’s a very interesting story and I love the creative idea of using the puppets to help tell the story .

simona marzano

Credo che meriti un riconoscimento e il successo.

Maurizio Condoluci

È un’opera che merita tutto il successo possibile per i contenuti e la sapienza con cui sono trattati! Ad maiora!!!

Gianfrancesco Ranieri

can’t wait for. great project, great family, great tribute to past experience as a lesson for present

Taylor Carlson

Yes, I too cannot wait :)

Tamara Flannagan

Can’t wait!!

Sharon C in Tempe

Yes . . . definitely. Such a beautiful story!

Anna Marie Spallina

This is an important story that needs to be told. I definitely want to see this film!

Donna Di Novelli

A story never told. Voices that must be heard.


can’t wait to see it finished


Can’t wait to see the movie! So, YES!!

marco tripaldi

Interesting point of view on second war: a family, a strange world, a very far and different culture. Good impression on it.

Nour Melehi

As a family member I know how much impact a story like this can have on the following generations and how it should be told and revealed to a wider audience. As a viewer I expect to be deeply moved by an intense, human and aesthetically compelling movie.


What a delicate subject, and what an elegant way to treat it; it will be beautiful, can’t wait to see it!

Kristin Keam

This is a fascinating idea and the use of puppets means it spans theatre and film in its story telling. It’s a must see!

Virginio Briatore

East & West, Past & Present togheter in a beautiful story! YES!

Giuseppe Mancini

Dal primo momento che l’ho visto me ne sono innamorato e mi ha commosso, come solo una storia di famiglia sa fare!

Luca Aureggi

Progetto meraviglioso… So lo sforzo e la passione che infondi in tutto ciò. Non vedo l’ora di vederlo on THE BIG SCREEN

Tessa Burke

What a compelling, moving story, can’t wait to see it on film!

Nicole Wilke

This is a fascinating story, which I would definitely love to see on film.

Michael Barber

Looks a fascinating project

Helen Logan

This is a fascinating story which is crying out to be told and this project is surely the most expressive way to tell it. I would love to see this film!

George F Leaman

I eagerly await this film

Sarah Di Giorno

This is a story that needs to be told before it is lost forever. The trailer has me hooked; I can’t wait!

Carlotta Valli

What an amazing story! Would love to see the film Yes!

Maggie B

Can’t wait for Haikus on a Plum Tree.

Giulia Beyman

It’s a great story and ‘yes!’ I would love to see this film

Jennifer Bavisotto

I would love to see this film. Yes! Yes!

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