Groping toward the future amid the ashes of war
Sneak Preview Screening: "Shadow of Fire (Hokage)"
followed by a Q&A with director Shinya Tsukamoto and actor Hiroki Kono

Thursday, November 9 at 6:00 pm*
*Please note early start time.

In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan 2023 95 minutes

Written and Directed by: Shinya Tsukamoto
Produced by: Shinya Tsukamoto
Starring: Shuri, Mirai Moriyama, Oga Tsukao,
Hiroki Kono, Go Riju, Tatsushi Omori

Film courtesy of Shin Nippon Films

Japan's most singular auteur, Shinya Tsukamoto ("Tetsuo the Iron Man," "Fires on the Plain") has devoted the last decade to exploring "how war affects people [and] the abject horror of taking lives." In "Fires on the Plain" (2014), he focused on exhausted Japanese soldiers on the WWII frontlines in the Philippines; in "Killing" (2018), his protagonist was a reluctant samurai.

With the final title of his antiwar trilogy, "Shadow of Fire," Tsukamoto now turns his lens on two survivors of the Tokyo firebombing, a widow and a young orphan. "I turned my full attention to the people dwelling in the shadows," he explains. "As the world takes a step backward from peace, I felt compelled to make this movie, as a prayer."

And indeed, the cinematic rage expressed in the previous two films is less explosive, more hushed here, with an almost reverential camera that lingers on character's faces, illuminating their suffering and their desperate need for human connection, as the story gradually evolves from darkness to light. Yet make no mistake, "Shadow of Fire" is as horrific as it is moving.

The widow (Shuri) has lost everything in the war, except a roof over her head. Under it, she earns money by selling her body, although the lack of food severely saps her energy. One night an emaciated young soldier (Kono) comes seeking her services, and stays for the comfort of another human. He's soon joined by a small boy (an outstanding Tsukao), who's been pilfering the widow's food, and the three lost souls gradually find some solace together. But the soldier is suffering from trauma and is soon forced to leave. Urged to find "honest" work, the boy takes a job with a mysterious man (Moriyama), who takes him along on a journey of amends… or perhaps something else altogether. As the orphan comes of age amid unimaginable hardship, his resilience is both endearing and heartbreaking.

Upon its world premiere in September, "Shadow of Fire" won the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film at the Venice International Film Festival, the first time a Japanese work had done so.

Please join us for this sneak preview of "Shadow of Fire" before the Japan release on November 25, 2023.

For more (in Japanese):

SHINYA TSUKAMOTO remains Japan's most independent filmmaker, having written, directed, produced, shot, edited, distributed and sometimes starred in 16 remarkable feature films. His 1989 cyberpunk masterpiece "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" established his credentials at major festivals overseas, and he has won awards and a huge fanbase for his ensuing work, including "Tokyo Fist" (1995), "Bullet Ballet" (1998), "A Snake of June" (2002), "Nightmare Detective" (2006), "Kotoko" (2011), "Fires on the Plain" (2014) and "Killing" (2018). Tsukamoto has an active parallel career as an actor in a diversity of films by other filmmakers, including key roles in Martin Scorsese's "Silence" and "Shin Godzilla," both in 2016, and "Shin Kamen Rider" (2023).

HIROKI KONO is an actor who made his debut as a director in 2022 with "J005311," which won the Grand Prize at the Pia Film Festival and went on to wide festival play overseas.

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk 03 3211-3161 or register from 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