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Wednesday, June 05, 2019, 18:45 - 21:30

In search of catharsis, four young orphans form a rock band and find family

Sneak Preview Screening: "We Are Little Zombies" followed by a Q&A with
director Makoto Nagahisa and producer Shinichi Takahashi

Wednesday, June 5 at 6:45 pm*06052019 We Are Little Zombies 356p
*Please note early start time.

In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2019 120 minutes  

Written and directed by: Makoto Nagahisa
Produced by: Taihei Yamanishi, Shinichi Takahashi,
Haruki Yokoyama, Haruhiko Hasegawa
Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima, Kuranosuke Sasaki,
Youki Kudoh, Sosuke Ikematsu, Eriko Hatsune, Jun Murakami, Naomi Nishida,
Shiro Sano, Rinko Kikuchi, Masatoshi Nagase

Film courtesy of Nikkatsu
Just how desensitized have today's tweens become, growing up submersed 24/7 in the online world?

An answer of sorts can be found in Makoto Nagahisa's award-winning debut feature, "We Are Little Zombies."

A tragicomic exploration into parental neglect, loss, grief, alienation, media manipulation, personal growth and other capital-T themes, it is also the most manically inventive, colorfully chaotic, whacked-out, surrealistic, joyously vibrant film you will see this year, if not this decade.

Taking his cue from his juvenile protagonists, Nagahisa tells his story in the style of a Super Nintendo RPG title, with characters each having to overcome a set of challenges before moving on to the next stage of their lives. If this hyper-energized, eye-popping pastiche of madcap mayhem is devoid of emotional depth for most of its running length, it is precisely because the director is echoing the children's own emotional voids.

But as it nears the finish line, "We Are Little Zombies" sparks to poignant life, presenting audiences with an unexpected - but well-earned - catharsis. The director himself has made his intentions clear: "It may be a bit hectic, but I hope it touches the heart of at least one person who is crouching in a dark room, alone."

The 13-year-old zombies meet for the first time at a crematorium. Hikari (Ninomiya, who narrates the story in a world-weary deadpan), Ikuko (Nakajima), Ishi (Mizuno) and Takemura (Okumura) have all lost their parents at the same time. As they swap stories, they discover something else in common: they feel nothing at all for their parents, nor for most adults, except disdain. "Reality is too stupid to cry over," says Hikari. Unable to grieve, unwilling to follow society's absurd prescripts, they begin skipping school and hanging out together. They have no dreams, no energy to move forward, no future.

But one day, they find inspiration in a "garbage band" at a homeless encampment, where the members channel their misfortunes into music. The kids decide to form their own kick-ass band to try to retrieve their emotions, and dub themselves the Little Zombies. After creating costumes and instruments with stuff on hand, they find an online influencer, have him shoot a music video and upload it. Overnight, they become viral sensations, and their mistrust of adults is amply rewarded.

Please join us for Makoto Nagahisa's dizzyingly exuberant, hilariously cynical and deeply moving "We Are Little Zombies" before the film opens in Japan on June 14. Who can resist a rallying cry like "Despair is uncool!"?

For more (in Japanese):

Writer-director MAKOTO NAGAHISA directed short films and music videos while working at a major ad agency as a commercial planner. In 2017, he wrote and directed "And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool," becoming the first Japanese to win the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. His feature film debut, "We Are Little Zombies," won the 2019 Sundance World Cinema Special Jury Award for Originality, as well as a Special Mention in the Generation section of the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival.

Producer SHINICHI TAKAHASHI works at Japan's oldest film studio, Nikkatsu Corporation. His resume includes such international film festival favorites as "Unforgiven" (2013), "Twisted Justice" (2016) and "Dawn of the Felines" (2017). He has also produced documentaries, such as "Documentary of AKB48" (2011).

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.         -

Karen Severns, Film Committee

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