An energetic director and all-star cast render the true story of a brilliant software engineer unfairly arrested by Japanese police at the dawn of the Internet age.
In the early days of the Internet, Isamu Kaneko, a brilliant computer engineer who developed a revolutionary file-sharing software dubbed Winny was arrested on charges of aiding copyright infringement. The so-called "Winny Trial" attracted global attention as the first prosecution of its kind. This tense courtroom drama tells the true story of Kaneko who, with his legal team, took on the authorities and the media to secure the future of computer engineers and software development.
The film is directed by the talented young Yusaku Matsumoto, whose debut feature film Noise, which he wrote and directed at age 23, won global acclaim after being screened at film festivals around the world, including the Montreal W orld Film Festival and Raindance Film Festival.
The lead character of Isamu Kaneko is played by Masahiro Higashide, winner of the Japan Academy Award for Best New Actor for his debut film The Kirishima Thing (‘12), and star of Ryusuke Hamaguchi's ASAKO I＆II (‘18), which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival competition. Higashihide continues to earn plaudits for his acting at home and abroad, including for his appearance in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Wife of a Spy (2020), winner of the Silver Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
The true story of a genius computer programmer and a lawyer battling unlawful arrest to lay a path for software engineers of the future.
At the dawn of the Internet in 2002, a brilliant computer engineer, Isamu Kaneko, develops an innovative file sharing software called “Winny,” which quickly earns a high market share just at a time when copyright infringement of movies and music was becoming a major problem. It leads eventually to the unprecedented arrest of Kaneko as a computer programmer. Should the creator of a technology be held liable when it is abused by others?
Taking over Kaneko’s defense is Dan, a lawyer familiar with cybercrime, who is flabbergasted by Kaneko’s initial lack of crisis about the trial. Kaneko further complicates his case when he is manipulated into cooperating with the investigation and signs a false statement confessing that he developed Winny as a means for spreading piracy. Once indicted in a criminal case, it is difficult to win an acquittal. Rushing to his support, however, are many Internet users who believe in Kaneko's innocence, and donate large sums of money for his defense. Moved by the outpouring of support, Kaneko becomes determined to fight in court. His lawyer, Dan, is moved by Kaneko’s childlike innocence when talking about programming, and feels certain he can get an acquittal while also fearing that a guilty verdict will destroy digital technology development in Japan. So together with Kaneko, Dan vows to fight the case for the sake of future engineers, and the two promise each other to start up a space business once the trial is over.
When a police officer becomes a whistleblower exposing an illicit police slush fund, it is a leak from Winny that provides the evidence. Kaneko and Dan then face an uphill battle against the aggressive tactics of the authorities until a police executive who led Kaneko's arrest issues contradictory testimony in court. That’s when the winds of fortune begin to change.
■ 24th Jeonju International Film Festival (2023)
- World Cinema section
■ 25th Shanghai International Film Festival (2023)
- NIPPON EXPRESS section
■ 16th JAPAN CUTS (2023)
- Feature Slate
- Masahiro Higashide (東出昌大)
Takahiro Miura (三浦貴大)
- Yusaku Matsumoto (松本優作)
- Yusaku Matsumoto (松本優作), Kentaro Kishi (岸健太郎)
- Japan release
- March 10, 2023
- 127 min.
- Technical Specs
- Color / 1:2.35 / 5.1ch