BIFF

This week marks the start of the Busan International Film Festival.  Tickets sell out quickly and due to timing and compatibility issues* I wasn't able to order tickets online.  Luckily Tuesday was a day off of work and I was able to go to the bank and score tickets for several of the shows.  As such I am going to endeavour to flex my muscles and write reviews of the films that I see (as well as catching up on my COETAIL work).

Japan's Tragedy 

The first film that I had the privilege of seeing was the world premier of "Japan's Tragedy." The movie is a drama that wants to encourage people to talk about mental illness. In Japan this is a much needed discussion but one that many people refuse to talk about.  The film itself is tragic in every way possible and as the movie draws closer to the predictable conclusion, one can't help but feel the deep sorrow that the two lead characters are going through. 

The movie starts off with Yoshio returning with his father, who has stopped treatment for lungcancer, from the hospital. During the movie's first act we learn that he ran away from his wife and child to seek treatment for depression and as a result his wife asked for a divorce and moved to her family's home along the coast.  Upon Yoshio's return his mother falls ill and he remains her caregiver for the next four years.  Yoshio also has no job and is living on his father's pension and feeling ashamed. His father meanwhile decides that the six months he has been given is too long and decides to lock himself in his room and refuses to eat or drink. While in his room Yoshio's father recounts events from his life. Yoshio meanwhile spends the majority of the movie pleading with his father to stop and to reminds his father that he needs him. 

The movie is painstakingly shot in black and white to emphasize the lack of happiness in the lives of these two men. In fact there is only scene that contains any colour at all.  This effect doesn't seem contrived while watching the movie but it is a predictable and easy way to get the point across.

One of the key moments in the film has to do with the March 2011 earthquake. Having 
Iived through that experience I was worried how the film would address this. During this  sequence you hear the sounds of the quake and the voices of Yoshio and his father as the father recounts the events. As the father stares into the camera, you see the sheer terror in his face as he recollects the events of that day. This part almost had me in tears. 

Throughout the film there are many phone calls. All of calls received during the film bring bad news. By the end of the film the connection becomes so engrained into the audience that you are left with no doubt about the conclusion of the film. 

I went into this movie not knowing what to expect and was treated to a movie character drama that touched me on many levels. As the credits begin to roll the audience is presented with some stark statistics. Rather then tll the audience to donate money or scold them into changing their minds about mental illness, the movie seems to be a plea for a much needed discussion n how society views and treats mental illness.




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    Brendan is an international school teacher.  He currently teaches grade 4 at Busan International Foreign School.

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