Berlin International Film Festival 2022
Udine Far East Film Festival 2022
Helsinki Cine Asia 2022
Berlin International Film Festival - Special Mention, Amnesty International Film Award
Lina Arashi, Daiken Okudaira
Seventeen-year-old Sarya (Lina Arashi) doesn’t quite look like other Japanese girls. When asked, she says she’s German. It’s a convenient answer, far less complicated than explaining she is a Kurdish minority from Turkey, whose family immigrated to Japan under less than ideal circumstances. Soon, however, she cannot keep up the façade. She learns that her father’s refugee status is being turned down. This restricts her family’s ability to work and move beyond the limits of their neighbourhood. Sarya is put in a difficult position as provider for her young brother and sister and interpreter for her father, who now navigates a stern bureaucratic minefield. Ambitions of a normal life—boyfriends, college, the usual—seem to drift further and further away, as Sarya is torn between adult responsibilities and adolescence in Japan.
A superb debut from Emma Kawawada (and producer Hirokazu Kore-eda), MY SMALL LAND is an exceptional breath of fresh air in the context of Japanese cinema—and its notable lack of diversity on screen. Kawawada, herself Japanese of mixed heritage, explores personal notions of identity and belonging, crafting a gripping and thoroughly researched story around the hardships of immigrants in a country with notoriously draconian immigration laws. In the context of Japan’s fraught, institutional monoculture, MY SMALL LAND is a sweet, haunting, and revelatory experience—yet never a sensational one. Instead, Kawawada dares to ask hard questions, all the while exploring the contradictions of the heart, navigating this coming-of-age story with remarkable dexterity and acumen. One of the stand-out Japanese films of the year. – Ariel Esteban Cayer
Boss and Aood reunite when the latter is diagnosed with cancer. Baz Poonpiriya (BAD GENIUS) returns with a stylish, boozy road movie.
Part BRUISED, part ROCKY, this sports drama combining melodrama and exciting matches sees Aya Asahina shine in and out of the ring.
From Akira Kurosawa’s longtime assistant director, a gripping, heartfelt reflection on what it is to be a samurai, in principle and in practice.