The Ones Left Behind:

The Plight of Single Mothers in Japan

About the film

The ones left behind: The plight of single mothers in Japan is a documentary unlike any other, that delves deep into Japanese society, culture, and history, to give the viewer a very different view of the Japan that we think we know.

Told through the eyes of battle-hardened single mothers and expert professors and business leaders living in Japan, The ones left behind: The plight of single mothers in Japan depicts the hardships that single mothers in Japan face, as well as Japanese society’s hidden poverty that has occurred in-spite of Japan's rapid economic growth in such a short period of time immediately following World War II.

The film unravels the causes of the unequal social background that Japan finds itself in and will appeal to people's hearts and minds of people to rethink the state of Japan, a nation that is not functioning properly, and how social support should be provided by communicating the current situation that the world finds itself in.

Miyakojima International Film Festival Best Documentary Award WINNER

MIYAKOJIMA, OKINAWA (July 2, 2023) - Hot on the heels of it's Japan premiere at the Yokohama International Film Festival, Australian director Rionne McAvoy's debut feature documentary film "The Ones Left Behind: The Plight of Single Mothers in Japan" has won best documentary at the Miyakojima International Film Festival, in Okinawa, Japan.

Miharu and Touka Chiba in Miyakojima

Rionne McAvoy and stars of the documentary

Editor in Chief of Tokyo Weekender Magazine (print and online) says:

McAvoy is a natural raconteur. His brilliant storytelling also involves the history of postwar Japan, yet what McAvoy reveals in his film the best is a series of narratorial boxes in which he opens the situations and realities in which many single parents in Japan live in.

Full Tokyo Weekender article here.

The Japan Times (print and online newspaper) says:

The women who share their stories in the documentary are a diverse group. Their children range in age from toddlers to young adults, and their jobs include contract office worker, temple priestess and actress. While most are divorced, there are also women who are single by choice after unexpectedly finding themselves pregnant. What unites them all is a wish to live with a sense of self-worth and dignity, and with enough means to provide stable lives and bright futures for their children.

McAvoy is humbled yet proud that “The Ones Left Behind” may play a part in raising awareness of the issue.

Full Japan Times article here.

Upcoming Screenings

Watch the trailer

About the director

The Ones Left Behind: The Plight of Single Mothers in Japan, is long term Tokyo resident and Australian filmmaker Rionne McAvoy's first feature documentary film. Rionne uncovers and unravels the causes of the unequal social background that Japan finds itself in, and uses a blend of real-life stories of single mothers and poverty issues in Japan, together with the chilling murder cases of two children of Japanese single mothers, as well as experts on the single mother and poverty issues in Japan, to expose a side of Japan that many Japanese refuse to admit exists. His stunning use of archival footage is used to explain the historical reasons for the current predicament that Japan finds itself in.

Rionne (pronounced Rye-Own) is a documentary filmmaker originally hailing from the Gold Coast in Australia. Now residing in Tokyo, Japan, for over 17 years, Rionne is fully bilingual in English and Japanese.

Rionne grew up in South East Queensland, Australia, and at the age of 19 went to Japan for an 8 week karate training trip and fell in love with the country. Putting his IT university studies on hold and returning to Japan 1 year later on a working holiday visa, Rionne spent 18 months living and working in Japan, including spending the last 8 months of that trip living with a Japanese host family. This is where he really began to master the Japanese language.

Realizing the need to complete his college education, Rionne returned to Australia and enrolled in a full time Japanese language and history degree at Griffith University. In the middle of those studies, Rionne spent 1 year as an international exchange student at Seikei University. Upon graduation from Griffith, Rionne returned to Japan where he has lived ever since.

A keen martial artist, Rionne has been in the Japanese film industry for over 10 years, often mixing his profession with that of his other profession - a professional wrestler under the ring name of Rionne Fujiwara. Rionne's debut documentary The ones left behind: The plight of single mothers in Japan has won numerous overseas and domestic film festival awards as it continues to be a shining light down the path of improving the living conditions for single parents in Japan, and around the world.


Thank you to the wonderful people for their time to be on film and tell us their stories




















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AP News

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AP News

The Japan Times

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The Japan Times

Tokyo Weekender Magazine

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Tokyo Weekender Magazine

Indie Wrap Magazine feature

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IndieWrap review

Rionne's thoughts on the film.

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Rionne's thoughts

A review of the film

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Film Threat Review