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Tuesday, February 04, 2020, 18:30 - 21:30

A friend disappears, leaving unanswered questions
Sneak Preview Screening: "Beneath the Shadow (Eiri)"
followed by a Q&A with director Keishi Otomo

Tuesday, February 4 at 6:30 pm*02042020 Beneath the Shadow Eiri 356p
*Please note early start time
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2019 134 minutes

Directed by: Keishi Otomo
Written by: Keishi Otomo, based on "Eiri" by Shinsuke Numata
Produced by: Masashi Igarashi, Kenichi Yoshida
Starring: Go Ayano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mariko Tsutsui and Jun Kunimura

Film courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) and Aniplex

Action-film hitmaker Keishi Otomo takes a surprising turn toward the contemplative, the elegiac, the ineffable with his new latest, "Beneath the Shadow." Based on the 2017 Akutagawa Prizewinner "Eiri," it is set in the director's hometown Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, both before and after the 3/11 tragedy. The sense of loss that infuses many scenes signals just how much personal resonance the story has for him.

Yet like its literary inspiration, the film's tale of fly fishing, drinking and male bonding skirts obvious interpretation, as straightforward as it seems. It begins with the suggestion of tragedy, is driven by mystery and ends even more enigmatically than it began.

The lonely protagonist of "Beneath the Shadow," Shuichi Konno (Ayano), first meets Norihiro Hiasa (Matsuda) when his pharmaceutical company transfers him to Morioka. If we learn nothing much about Konno, we learn even less about Hiasa - only that he's a rule shirker, loves to fish and that his coworkers call him Box Section Chief, for his skill with a box cutter. The two men begin to spend time together, and Konno develops his own fondness for angling as they fall into an uneasy comradery.

Then one day, Hiasa abruptly quits the company and leaves town without a word to Konno. When he shows up again, half a year later, he begs his friend to buy a policy he's selling for a mutual aid society. And then 3/11 hits, and Hiasa completely disappears, assumed to be dead. Konno contacts Hiasa's father (Kunimura) to see what he's heard, and discovers that what little he knew about their relationship had been a lie. He remembers what Hiasa said to him late one night: "What you see is [what] the light hits for an instant, nothing more. When you look at someone, you should look at the other side. That part is the deepest."

"Beneath the Shadow" had its world premiere at the Hainan Island International Film Festival in December, where Ryuhei Matsuda won the award for Best Actor. Join us for this sneak preview before the film's Japan release on February 14.

For more (in Japanese):

KEISHI OTOMO began his career with NHK in 1990, and studied filmmaking in LA for two years before directing NHK hits "Hagetaka: Road to Rebirth" and "Ryomaden." In 2011, he established his own company and became the first Japanese director to sign a multipicture deal with Warner Bros., for whom he directed the manga adaptation "Rurouni Kenshin" (2012). As we all know, that film was a blockbuster hit overseas, as well as in Japan, and spawned several sequels. Otomo went on to make "Platinum Data" (2013), "The Top Secret: Murder in Mind" (2016), "Museum" (2016), the two-part "March Comes in Like a Lion" (2017) and "Million Dollar Man" (2018) He is currently putting finishing touches on the two-part "Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter," which will be released this summer.

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk ( 03-3211-3161 ) 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


02042020 Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 290p.jpg
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