The second feature from Bunji Sotoyama, who won 5 awards at the Monaco IFF included Best Short Film!
This is the second feature-length release from director Bunji Sotoyama, known around the world for On This Side (10), whose five awards at the Monaco International Film Festival included Best Short Film, and his first feature, A Sparkle of Life (13), which screened at the Montreal World Film Festival.
Starring is Nijiro Murakami, an up-and-coming young actor known in Japan and abroad for his work in such titles as director Naomi Kawase’s Cannes Festival Palme d’Or-nominated Still the Water, Tetsuya Mariko’s Destruction Babies (16), Joe Odagiri’s They Say Nothing Stays the Same (19), and a voice role in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (18).
His co-star is Haruka Imou, chosen by audition from more than 100 candidates. She won the Best Actress award at the 2018 Kadoma International Film Festival for Beyond the Blue, and also appeared in HIKARI’s 37 Seconds (19), winner of the Panorama Audience and International Confederation of Art Houses awards at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Soirée is the first project from SHINSEKAI, a production venture organized by actors Kosuke Toyohara and Kyoko Koizumi. Toyohara is a major figure in Japanese film whose many credits include Into the Sun (05, starring Steven Seagal) and Shion Sono’s Shinjuku Swan (15), and having wide-range of activities includes stage scripts and directing. Koizumi was debuted as a singer and actress in 1982; one of Japan’s top singers and charismatic actresses. As an actress has appeared in several Kiyoshi Kurosawa films, including Tokyo Sonata (08) and the Penance (12). It is their enthusiasm for the work of Bunji Sotoyama that led to the creation of the production venture.
Shota, who wants to be an actor, and Takara, who works in a seniors’ home. Two people who have given up set out on their own road movie.
Shota comes to Tokyo hoping to become an actor. His dream seems very far away, though, in his daily round of workshops, auditions, and part-time jobs. Then, through a drama group of which he is a member, he gets a position teaching drama to the inhabitants of a seaside senior citizens’ residence near to where he grew up. This is a turning point in his life.
At the “Sakura Garden” he meets Takara, a woman of his own age who works there. There is something about the hopeless look in her eyes as she works that strikes Shota. He invites her to a festival, and on his way to meet her encounters an astonishing sight. The two end up causing an accident, Shota takes Takara by the hand, and they head off. Their journey—or their elopement—has now begun.
■ 25th Busan International Film Festival (2020)
- A Window on Asian Cinema
■ The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (2021)
- Nijiro Murakami (村上虹郎), Haruka Imou (芋生悠)
- Written and Directed
- Bunji Sotoyama (外山文治)
- Japan release
- August 28, 2020
- 111 min.
- Technical Specs
- Color / Digital / 5.1ch / 1:2.35