A bold jidaigeki mixes potty humor with social critique and a vital eco-message        

Sneak Preview Screening: "Okiku and the World (Sekai no Okiku)"
followed by a Q&A with director Junji Sakamoto and
art director-producer Mitsuo Harada

Tuesday, April 25 at 6:00 pm*
*Please note early start time.
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2023 90 minutes


Written and directed by: Junji Sakamoto
Produced by: Mitsuo Harada
Cinematography: Norimichi Kasamatsu
Starring: Haru Kuroki, Kanichiro, Sosuke Ikematsu, Claude Maki, Koichi Sato, Renji Ishibashi
Film courtesy of Free Stone Productions

In the mid-19th century, as we learn from the opening of Junji Sakamoto's irreverent - but realist - take on the late Edo period, Japan has literally "gone to sh*t."

While it's immediately clear that he has no intention of romanticizing the entitled samurai nor the poverty-stricken peasants, the director's bold blend of potty humor and cutting social commentary brings an exhilarating freshness to his new jidaigeki period drama, despite the fecal ubiquity to be found in the capital's fetid swamp.

As playful as it is soulful, "Okiku and the World" focuses on two unlikely protagonists, Yasuke (Ikematsu) and Chunji (Kanichiro), who make their living by collecting human waste from tenement outhouses, which they dutifully pay for, and then resell it to farmers in the countryside. Their roles in this sustainable ecosystem are the lowest of the low, but both young men have time to indulge in idle dreams - Yasuke longs to be a storyteller, and Chunji longs to woo the lovely schoolteacher Okiku (Kuroki), who longs to see the world but cannot, because she must support her father Genbei (Sato), a fallen samurai.

But then the relentless rains commence. One day, the three dreamers are seeking shelter from the downpour under an outhouse roof; the next, Edo's privies are overflowing. As the manure men attempt to rescue the tenement's denizens from the muck, and the city's class divisions become ever more evident, a touching romance dares to grow.

The aesthetic brilliance of "Okiku and the World" helps deliver an unexpectedly rich viewing experience (and softens the imagined stench of all that poop). Mitsuo Harada's meticulous production design is a masterwork; while Norimichi Kasamatsu's lush black-and-white photography is embellished periodically with touches of color, revealing the beautiful amidst the foul.

"Okiku and the World" had its heralded premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and has been booked to play a range of prestigious festivals. Please join us for this sneak preview ahead of the film's Japanese release on April 28.
For more (in Japanese): http://sekainookiku.jp/

Writer-director JUNJI SAKAMOTO won a slew of awards for his 1989 debut, "Knockout." In 2000, he won the Japan Academy's Best Director Award, among many other prizes, for "Face." He was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for "KT" in 2002, and was in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival with "Out of this World" (2004). Other highlights of his career include "Children of the Dark" (2008), "A Chorus of Angels" (2012), "The Projects" (2016), which memorably reunited him with Naomi Fujiyama, the star of "Face," and "Another World" (2019). He last joined us in 2017 with "Ernesto."

Producer MITSUO HARADA began his career in production planning and producing, and worked in the art departments of many films before becoming the art director of Junji Sakamoto's "The Goofball" (1998). In 2000, he won the Mainichi Film Concours Art Direction Award and the Fujimoto Award Special Prize for Sakamoto's "Face" and Jun Ichikawa's "Zawa Zawa Shimokitazawa." He has continued to win awards for his work. Among the highlights are "Aegis" (2005), "Thermae Romae" (2012), "The Unforgiven" (2013), "Samurai's Promise" (2018), "Battlestar Ibuki" (2019) and "My Brother, the Android and Me" (2022).

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk 03 3211-3161 or register below.
All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.
We kindly ask for your cooperation with Covid-19 prevention measures at the reception desk and masks are absolutely mandatory on the premises. (Club regulation is relaxed but we have decided to keep it since audience will be forced to sit in close proximity to others)    

- Karen Severns, Film Committee