North American premiere
Cheval Noir


Directed by Junta Yamaguchi

Hosted by Director Junta Yamaguchi, Producer Takahiro Otsuki.


Official selection

Neuchatel Fantastic Film Festival 2023


Junta Yamaguchi


Makoto Ueda


Riko Fujitani, Yoshimasa Kondo, Shiori Kubo, Munenori Nagano, Yuki Torigoe


Third Window Films

Japan 2023 82 mins OV Japanese Subtitles : English

Enter stage right, into the long-established Fujiya Inn, located in Kibune, a wintry valley town in the northern mountains of Kyoto. Mikoto (Riko Fujitani, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF EIZOUKEN!), one of the establishment’s waitresses, goes about her work day, rubbing shoulders with the ryokan’s various tenants and employees. Among them: her crush Takusa, a young cook preparing for a short nap; two friends reuniting over hot pot; a struggling writer; and his assistant heading for a bath. Called downstairs by her boss, Mikoto stares momentarily into the river nearby. A blink. A lifetime. Suddenly something is off — the sake won’t get warm, the rice placed in the pot never dries out, the bathwater never stops flowing. The inn is looping… two minutes at a time!

Only two features in, and we can confidently call micro-budget time-travel maestro Junta Yamaguchi (of 2021 cult hit BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES) a bona fide Fantasia favourite. Back this year with more time-loop antics, he delivers a savvy update on his previous film’s formula, transposing his innovative “tiny loop” concept and dedicated troupe of actors to a new setting that feels both fresh and propulsive. If BEYOND was a Möbius strip, RIVER is a sprawling story tree, raising the stakes by expanding the intricacy of the cast’s relations. Doing so, Yamaguchi crafts a series of two-minute takes that gradually build into a multifaceted portrait of character and place as guests and hosts alike band together to solve the mystery of the valley stuck in time. – Ariel Esteban Cayer