North American Premiere
Keiko Tsuruoka’s film is at once traditional and contemporary: it gently mixes present-day gender and sexuality politics with the old-fashioned Japanese domestic drama. Traditional lacquerwork kitchenware is the Aoki family’s legacy, handed down to patriarch Seishiro (Kaoru Kobayashi) by his now-ailing father (Masayuki Suzuki). Seishiro expects to pass it in turn to his son Yu (Ryota Bando), but Yu has no interest in the craft—quite unlike daughter Miyako (Mayu Hotta), who loves it dearly. The stage is set for conflict, as established cultural traditions collide with modern mores…
Tsugaru Lacquer Girl features fine performances from its ensemble cast. As the father, Kobayashi assumes a mask of stern stoicism that melts slowly but surely; another player of note is Toshia Miyata as Yu’s kindly boyfriend. Hotta, however, is the centre of the film, and her performance as the heroine is at once gentle and luminous. Like the artisans that are his subject, Tsuruoka has crafted a modest but beautiful work; sit back, relax, and let it warm your heart.
Mayu Hotta, Ryota Bando, Toshiya Miyata, Reiko Kataoka, Kaoru Kobayashi
In Japanese with English subtitles
Natsuko Mori, Hitoshi Endo, Tatsuya Matsuoka, Koichiro Fukuoka
Keiko Tsuruoka, Kensaku Kojima
Born in Nagano Prefecture in 1988, Keiko Tsuruoka began making movies while attending Rikkyo University. Her graduation work, Town of Whales (2012), won the Grand Prize at the 2012 PIA Film Festival and was shown at the Berlin IFF, the Busan IFF and many other film festivals around the world. She directed her second film My First Love (2013), which was presented at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Filmography: Town of Whales (2012); My First Love (2013); Lingering Memories (2015); Utsuroi no hyohonbako (2016); Makuko (2019)
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