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Monday, September 09, 2019, 18:30 - 21:30

A vanishing way of life through the eyes of a river boatman

Sneak Preview Screening: "They Say Nothing Stays the Same (Aru Sendou no Hanashi)"
followed by a Q&A with debuting director Joe Odagiri

Monday, September 9 at 6:30 pm*NOTHING STAYS THE SAME 356p
*Please note early start time.

In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2019 137 minutes

Written and directed by: Joe Odagiri
Produced by: Shozo Ichiyama, Takuro Nagai, Yusaku Nakajima
Cinematography by: Christopher Doyle
Costumes by: Emi Wada
Starring: Akira Emoto, Ririka Kawashima, Nijiro Murakami, Tsuyoshi Ihara,
Tadanobu Asano, Jun Murakami, Yu Aoi, Takashi Sasano, Mitsuko Kusabue,
Haruomi Hosono, Masatoshi Nagase, Isao Hashizume

Film courtesy of Kino Films

Once upon a time, a young Japanese man applied to study film directing in California, intending to make it his career. But fate intervened. Soon, he became a big movie star instead, and his dream faded into the background of his success...until he gathered a few equally famous friends and created a completely unexpected film.

That film, "They Say Nothing Stays the Same," is a deceptively simple story about a lonely old boatman, Toichi (Emoto, in his first leading role in over a decade), who ferries villagers and visitors to a town on the other side of the river. His only real relationship is with Genzo (Murakami), a young neighbor who may or may not be a simpleton. Upstream, a large bridge is being constructed and Toichi will be able to retire. He has mixed feelings about that.

And then one day, he rescues a half-dead young girl from the water and gives her a place to stay. Fu (Kawashima) is as reticent as her host, but despite the mystery of her past, a friendship begins to grow. As the days melt into months, nothing seems to change; but of course, nothing ever stays quite the same.

Set in early Meiji Japan (perhaps) but timeless in its concerns - the sacrifices made in the name of progress, the loss of cherished traditions and the natural environment, the human costs of capitalism - Joe Odagiri's feature directing debut is astonishing in its storytelling mastery and its visual artistry, a tribute not only to his impressive skill at guiding actors to rich performances (especially Emoto, who is deeply moving), but also to his ability to select the perfect collaborators.

First among them is his unrivaled cinematographer, Christopher Doyle ("In the Mood for Love," "The Limits of Control"), who captures a Japan that is at once achingly beautiful, steeped in tradition but rushing headlong toward modernization. Shot in a splendidly scenic mountain valley over the course of four seasons, with nearly constant mist rising from the boatman's river, Doyle's images are never less than captivating. Academy Award-winning costume designer Emi Wada ("Ran," "Samurai Marathon") and Armenian jazz musician Tigran Hamasyan, composing his first film score, also provide superlative support.

Perfectly timed for the dawning of the Reiwa Era, in which you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't long for a less frantic pace of life, or doesn't wonder just where the world is heading, Odagiri's elegiac, rewarding film looks and feels like a classical masterpiece.

Please join us for this sneak preview of "They Say Nothing Stays the Same" ahead of its Japanese release on September 13, and immediately following its world premiere in the Venice Days section of the Venice Film Festival, where Odagiri is starring in the Competition film "Saturday Fiction" by Ye Lao.

For more (in Japanese):

Acclaimed actor JOE ODAGIRI makes his feature writing-directing debut with "They Say Nothing Stays the Same," after directing several short and mid-length films. One of just a handful of Japanese actors who are international stars, he came to notice in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Bright Future" in 2003, and has since amassed an extraordinary filmography, working primarily with indie auteurs rather than big-studio directors, to create a range of unforgettable characters. He has also had a prolific TV career, and been active overseas since 2006, performing in English, French, Korean and Spanish. He won Best Supporting Actor at the Japanese Academy prizes for "Blood and Bones" in 2004, and Best Actor for "Sway" in 2006. He also won a Blue Ribbon Award for his first collaboration with Junji Sakamoto, "Out of this World," in 2004; and appeared at FCCJ with their second collaboration, "Ernesto" (2017).

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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