Aoi Miyazaki (EUREKA) plays Sachiko, a thirteen year-old girl living with her depressed mother (Ryo, DISTANCE). The film starts by showing her mother’s suicide attempt, a scene that pretty much sets the tone, both content-wise and stylistically. Director Akihiko Shiota is brutally honest in showing what happens, but never exploitive or dramatic. When in the next scene both of them are at the breakfast table the next morning, things aren’t as they seem. While going through the parenting motions, mother is wearing a bandage around her wrist. And even though Sachiko is wearing her school uniform, she has long since dropped out of school. —http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/Reviews/gaichu.htm
Akihiko Shiota (塩田明彦 Shiota Akihiko?) (born 11 September 1961, Maizuru, Kyoto is a Japanese film director and screenwriter.
Born in Kyoto Prefecture, Shiota attended Rikkyō University, where he began making 8mm films in the tradition of other Rikkyō students like Kiyoshi Kurosawa. His independently made films were recognized at the Pia Film Festival and he began writing film criticism and working as an assistant for Kurosawa and other filmmakers. He also studied screenwriting under Atsushi Yamatoya, who wrote scenarios for Seijun Suzuki, and worked as the cinematographer for films by Takayoshi Yamaguchi.
His first two films as a director, Moonlight Whispers and Don’t Look Back, were both released in 1999 and earned Shiota the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award. Don’t Look Back also won the Jury Prize at the Three Continents Festival.Harmful Insect (2002) screened at the Venice Film Festival and earned two more awards at the Three Continents Festival. His first… read more
It's not uncommon for filmmakers to focus on a small-scale dramatic situation in order to pave the way for observations and inferences on a larger scale, but few have the ability to balance the positives and the negatives, the beauty and the ugliness, the hope and the despair of a given situation, or of life itself, to allow us to reflect on the graduality with which something or someone came into being. Which is what makes this film so utterly devastating, the subtly progressive hardening of a young soul in a seemingly balanced yet internally fragmented and emotionally hollow society, quietly bearing down on those who don't quite fit in. As much as one would like to credit Shiota, he wouldn't have been able to accomplish what he did without Miyazaki, who shows the ability to do more with her eyes than performers many times her age.