Japan Foundation: Sketches of Kaitan City

New Year’s Eve, Kaitan City. A worker is made redundant due to a downsizing of the city’s shipyard; an old woman refuses to leave her home even though it is in an area planned for redevelopment; a manager of the local planetarium suspects his wife of betrayal; a lonely tram driver tries to understand why his grown-up son never visits; the wife of a neglectful business owner directs her anger with her husband towards their son. Ordinary people, having to deal with the realities of their day-to-day lives, and taking solace in the small comforts that life presents.

 Adapting five short stories from an unfinished anthology by the late novelist Yasushi Sato, acclaimed director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri has produced a rich humanist work filled with contemplation and tenderness. Using the real life port of Hakodate in his native Hokkaido to represent the fictional city of Kaitan, Kumakiri uses a canvas of richly textured panoramas to establish a strong sense of time and place that is faithful to the source material. Combining this with camera shots that remain reflective and unobtrusive, the overall result is a thoughtful mosaic that evokes a deep empathy for the experiences and repressed emotions of the characters on screen.

 Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (born 1974) majored in Arts’ Visual Concept Planning at the Osaka University of Arts. His graduation film Kichiku (98) screened at more than 10 international film festivals, including in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival. His next film, Hole in the Sky (01), received the FIPRESCI Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. His other works include Antenna (03), The Volatile Woman (04), Green Mind, Metal Bats (06), Freesia: Bullet Over Tears (06), Non-Ko (08), The End of Summer (13) and My Man (14).

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