THE KIRISHIMA THING (Closing Night Film)
★ CLOSING NIGHT FILM & AFTER PARTY ★
This teen ensemble drama depicts five days in a Japanese high school from the point of view of various groups defined by a strict social hierarchy. The popular kids play sports and shun the after school clubs, while the geeky George Romero-obsessed Maeda and his film club occupy the bottom rung of the social ladder. But the natural order of things is be disturbed when star athlete Kirishima quits the volleyball team and mysteriously stops attending school.
The titular Kirishima is never seen, the story structured around his conspicuous absence, which sends ripples throughout the various social strata of the school. Girlfriend Risa is heartbroken by his evasion of her calls and best friend Hiroki seemingly cut adrift without him, while others start to question the rule of the social elite. Maeda and his clan of misfits attempt to shoot their latest zombie homage and start challenging for the physical space of the playground, leading to a surreal and poetic climactic confrontation.
With stunning production values and authentic performances from a young cast, this is an enigmatic and heartfelt drama, revealing a world of invisible but strictly observed boundaries and divides. And in its depiction of characters struggling against these self-imposed restrictions the story takes on a more profound and universal resonance, it’s meaning extending beyond the sphere of Japanese teen culture. (Sami El-Hadi)
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