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Japan, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Regional Focus)

Director: Junji Sakamoto

An extraordinary essay on how one woman finds freedom, from a filmmaker famous for his obsessive interest in the world of men. Now Sakamoto's thematic layers of macho uber cool toughness, pathos and all consuming revenge, are rendered through the lens of a uniquely feminine struggle for redemption and self respect. Masako is an awkward, withdrawn, middle aged woman who kills her sister in an explosion of pent up humiliation and rage. Despite her guilt, and with rape and extortion defining her past encounters with men, she is driven to take charge of her own actions She flees to the southern town of Beppu, where she takes work in a bar falling for a man as broken as she. But the happiest time of her life is also forced to a premature end and she is finally driven to face her ultimate challenge. Face features Japan's most revered stage actress, Naomi Fujiyama, as Masako, in her screen debut. Through her stunning performance Sakamoto is able to uncover the humour that lies even in utter humiliation, gently and evocatively drawing our attention to the singularly uncomfortable truths that reside in the human condition

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