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Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 18:30 - 21:30

Two lost souls find hope on a journey to exorcise the past

Sneak Preview Screening: "SOIRÉE"
followed by a Q&A with director Bunji Sotoyama
and stars Nijiro Murakami and Haruka Imou

Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30 pm*Soirée 356p
*Please note early start time

In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2020 111 minutes

Writer-director: Bunji Sotoyama
Producer: Kosuke Toyohara
Co-producer: Kazutoshi Maeda
Associate producer: Kyoko Koizumi
Starring: Nijiro Murakami, Haruka Imou, Takashi Okabe,
Suon Kan, Daisuke Tsukahara, Osamu Kaou, Kanami Tagawa,
Noriko Eguchi, Kei Ishibashi, Hiroshi Yamamoto
Film courtesy of Tokyo Theatres

IMPORTANT NOTE: We will be limiting the audience to 50 people to assure everyone's safety. Temperatures will be taken in the reception area, and your name/contact number will be collected. Masks will be mandatory; please bring your own.

The two young protagonists of Bunji Sotoyama's visually and emotionally rewarding second feature are struggling against demons that threaten to consume them. Immeasurably lonely, unable to overcome crippling self-doubt, they feel alienated and filled with uncertainty - attributes they share with many of today's disaffected youth. Yet their story will unfold very differently from most, not least because of the director's demonstrated commitment to honoring the wisdom and experience of older generations.

Shota (Murakami) has come to Tokyo to pursue his dreams of being an actor, but when we first meet him, he is using his skills instead to skim an innocent victim in an "ore-ore" fiscal scam. When his drama group journeys to a remote seaside town in Wakayama, where they will hold workshops with the inhabitants of a senior citizens' home, we learn that Shota's hometown is nearby and that he has essentially severed ties with his family. At the Sakura Garden home, he meets Takara (Imou), an aide, and her forlorn air prompts Shota to invite her to the local summer festival.

As he arrives to pick her up, so too does the man most responsible for crushing her spirit -and without thinking, Shota grabs her by the hand and they run. Their escape is misconstrued, and their unplanned journey takes on a more urgent tone. But as it continues, the pair are put to the test physically, emotionally, financially. "God puts us through trials, but gives us a way out," Shota reassures Takura. As they search for that way, they encounter and are helped by caring souls, but until they've faced up to their own pasts, the journey cannot end well.

Beautifully lensed and acted, "Soirée" was made with the support of acting veterans Kosuke Toyohara and Kyoko Koizumi as the first release of their new production venture, aptly named Shinsekai. Please join us for this sneak preview before the Japan release of "Soirée" on August 28.

For more (in Japanese):

Writer-director BUNJI SOTOYAMA is a graduate of the Japan Institute of the Moving Image and winner of five awards, including Best Short Film, at the Monaco International Film Festival for "On This Side" (2010). He made his feature film debut in 2013 with "A Sparkle of Life," which screened at the Montreal World Film Festival and other festivals.

NIJIRO MURAKAMI shot to fame in Japan and abroad for his work in such films as director Naomi Kawase's "Still the Water" (2014), "Destruction Babies" (2016), "The Gun" (2018) and Joe Odagiri's "They Say Nothing Stays the Same" (2019), which we screened here last year. Murakami won the Tokyo Gemstone Award at the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival, among other honors. He will soon be seen in "The Gun 2020," and in Masato Harada's "Baragaki: Unbroken Samurai." Murakami first acted for Bunji Sotoyama in the short film "Harunareya" (2017), costarring with Kazuko Yoshiyuki.

HARUKA IMOU began her career in 2015, after becoming a finalist in the Junon Girls Contest. She made her movie debut in "Valentine Nightmare" (2016) and has appeared in "Tokyo Ghoul" (2017), "Psychic Kusuo" (2017), "Demolition Girl" (2019) and "37 Seconds" (2019). Next year, she will be seen in the hotly anticipated "Hokusai."

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 and
please inform the Reception Desk to assure there is seating available.
All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.

- Karen Severns, Film Committee


Soirée 290p.jpg
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