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Japan, 1997 (MIFF 1998, Regional Features)

Director: Masato Harado

Bounce allows us to sneak into the real-life under-belly of Shibuya, Tokyo's teen capital. The film is fast, twisted, thoroughly involving, and easily stands alongside Kids and La Haine as no holds barred accounts of disaffected youth. In Shibuya - where the world's best accessorised youth come out to shop, chat and hang out - it's tough keeping up in the fast lane of Japanese pop culture.

For teenage high-schoolers Maru and Raku, and call-girl Lisa, there's only one way to make it in a world where money buys respect and image. It quickly becomes apparent how the girls so easily fall into the snares of 'talent scouts', unscrupulous pimps who pick up girls on the street, selling their underwear to frustrated salary men, the Yakuza, and ultimately steering them toward prostitution. Instead of embracing the stereotype of female passivity, these 'Ko Girls' exploit the traditions of their elders to positive effect and eventually move beyond the tide of exploitation and despair.

Masato Harado - director of offbeat MIFF 1996 hit, Kamikaze Taxi - has positioned his camera to best capture the view of the girls' world, allowing a non-judgmental yet insightful take on how they negotiate Japanese society and cultural mores. In common with Kamikaze Taxi, Bounce is hip and fast paced without losing sight of its deeper messages.

"The film is a light-hearted tale of adolescent friendship and a portrait of a new breed of aggressively independent, sexually confident young women with lots of attitude. The coolest beauties in school, these smart, fearless girls couldn't be further from traditional notions of Japanese feminine submissiveness." - Variety

Masato Harado was born in 1949 in Japan and has worked as a film columnist in London and as a Golden Globe critic in Los Angeles. Harado has been making films at the rate of one per year since 1984. Titles include: Indecent Exposure (1985), The Heartbreak Yakuza (1987), Painted Desert (1993) and Trouble with Nango (1995).

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