Off Highway 20

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Off Highway 20 (Kokudô 20 gosen)

Directed by Katsuya Tomita

  • Japan 2007; 77 min
  • Original version: Japanese
  • Genre: Drama

Synopsis

Hisashi was once a member of a motorcycle gang. Now he plays pachinko everyday with his live-in girlfriend, Junko. He has a habit of "huffing" paint thinner. His debts accumulate every day. Hisashi's old friend from the gang, Ozawa is a loan shark. He persuades Hisashi to join his easy-money-making scheme, "Quit inhaling paint thinner and score big with me!"

Hisashi's dead-end life is made up of the same things that symbolize contemporary rural Japan: Karaoke clubs, pachinko parlors, ATM loan machines and discount outlets along a highway. In this ordinary place that is just like hundreds of other small towns in Japan, Hisashi sees the darkness. Darkness that is out of the reach of neon lights along the highway. In the vacuum of this darkness, life repeats itself endlessly. Hisashi has a flashback of a paint-thinner trip he once had. The hallucination tempts him to the other side. Tantalized, he asks himself, "Can I really go?"

Director's Statement

March 11th 2011, the day of Japan’s catastrophic Great East Earthquake, has altered all discourse in Japan. They often ask, “have you changed the way you feel about making films since the earthquake?” I usually answer, “No, I have not changed.” To me, nuclear plants are an addiction—as if providing the same effects of a narcotic drug—for those who come to depend on them. In Japan, these plants are built in rural towns in order to support the consumption of electricity in megalopolises. Those who support this idea of unbalanced dependency make an effort cover the real risks and to distribute propaganda that leads people to believe that the plants are necessary for the survival of rural people. In their ‘explanation,’ nuclear plants are considered to be the gold mine that provides subsidies and jobs, without any consequences. Unfortunately, the addiction has deepened: even after the incidents, some locals want to return to Fukushima and reestablish their deceived life. In this film, made in 2007, I aim to accurately depict real life in the Japanese countryside. Cheap gambling parlors, an ATM for moneylenders, and psychedelic shopping malls (not including nuc-plants) become the new values and force residents into modern addiction. This film is Kuzoku’s sincere attempt to exhibit the truth about Japan that existed both before and after the event of 3.11.

Production

  • KUZOKU

    Terutarô Osanaï 

  • FLYING PILLOW FILMS

    Atsuko Ohno