North American premiere
Selection 2019


Directed by Ken Ninomiya



Ken Ninomiya


Ken Ninomiya


Mugi Kadowaki, Ryo Narita, Tina Tamashiro, Shiori Yoshida


Kadokawa Corporation

Official website

Japan 2019 104 mins OV Japanese Subtitles : English
Genre Drama

The dismembered body found in Tokyo Bay has just been identified. It is Yoshiko Chiwaki (Shiori Yoshida), 20 years old. Her friends knew her only as Chiwawa, the name she had given herself because of her small size. Beautiful, cheerful and charismatic, she felt herself exist only in the eyes of others. Whether stealing a colossal sum from crooked entrepreneurs in the middle of the nightclub, pursuing a modeling career or engaging in ever more unrestrained sexual debauchery, she did it all to get noticed and to be surrounded by people who loved her. This incessant desire to draw in others eventually got the better of her. The party is well and truly over. One of Chiwawa's friends, Miki (Mugi Kadowaki), is now trying to figure out what happened. Through the witnesses of this descent into hell, she will try to solve the riddle of Chiwawa.

Adapted from the singular work of mangaka Kyoko Okazaki, to whom we also owe the unforgettable HELTER SKELTER and RIVER'S EDGE, CHIWAWA is one of those rare, indescribable cinematic experiences you have to experience to understand. It's a bit like a uniting of the tragic themes and storytelling, melding past and present, of Yoon Sung-hyun's heartbreaking BLEAK NIGHT with the provocative, elaborate staged generational portrait of Harmony Korine's SPRING BREAKERS. The music-video style of writer-director Ken Ninomiya (THE LIMIT OF SLEEPING BEAUTY) — the constantly moving shoulder camera, the omnipresent eclectic soundtrack, the jittery editing — creates a puzzling ambience depicting Chiwawa’s disorientation and downward spiral. Her relentless pursuit of attention makes her a kind of archetype of the Facebook/Instagram generation. The sincere performances of a relatively unknown young cast, supported by international stars Chiaki Kuriyama (KILL BILL) and Tadanobu Asano (THOR), add an essential authenticity to this feast for the senses that, like its title character, will surely fascinate and seduce. – Translation: Rupert Bottenberg