The Town of Headcounts


Pursued by loan sharks, our nameless protagonist is rescued by a mysterious man in orange overalls, and spirited away to "The Town," where other dropouts hide out from debtors, abusive partners or the police. It’s a perpetual holiday resort where every comfort (even sex) is catered to, but the arrival of a woman looking for her missing sister uncovers a sinister conspiracy.

Ambitious and compelling, this is one of the most politically astute Japanese films in years. The allegory of Japanese society is spot-on. From rules of enforced etiquette to transactional sex, this is a system that keeps its people docile and dependent on instant gratification. Channeling sci-fi dystopian classics like Logan’s Run, 1984 and The Truman Show, the film is a potent mirror of our global malaise: internet bullying and surveillance, election interference and terrorism. Shinji Araki, who previously worked with comic genius Matsumoto Hitoshi (Big Man Japan, Symbol), has directed a visionary, chilling yet beguiling thriller, with electrifying tension throughout.


Includes an interview with Director: Shinji Araki

International premiere
Director Icon Director
Shinji Araki

Tomoya Nakamura, Shizuka Ishibashi
Executive Producer Naoya Kinoshita, Yumiko Takebe
Producer Wakana Kanno, Tomohiko Seki
Screenwriter Shinji Araki
Cinematographer Hidetoshi Shinomiya
Editor Banri Nagase
Production Design Ryo Sugimoto
Music Takuma Watanabe
Production Company Kinoshita Group
Source Kino Films Co., Ltd.
Japan 2020 111 min. Japanese with English subtitles Official Website | Twitter


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Shinji, Araki headshot


Araki Shinji graduated from the University of Tokyo, where he majored in Culture and Representation, Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies. The theme of his thesis was Jacques Rivette. He has been active as a TV commercial planner, creative director and has done numerous TV commercials and music videos. The Town of Headcounts is his directorial debut.