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Japan, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Regional Focus)

Director: Shunji Iwai

"Shunji Iwai achieved international recognition with Love Letter (1995) and April Story (MIFF 1999), and with this quietly devastating, often hauntingly beautiful portrait of troubled youth, he has now proved himself one of Japan's leading talents and boldest voices. Visually, Iwai's film (which picked up the Special Jury Award at 2002 Shanghai Film Festival) is frequently mesmerising, setting its sordid events against gorgeous natural colours and golden sunlight. Classically composed shots are combined with handheld camera-work to create a genuinely kinetic mood reflective of the anxiety of puberty." - Screen International

In a small rural lapanese town, 14-year-old Yuichi finds hope in a pop star named Lily Chou Chou, managing a website, 'Liliphilia', devoted to her. After a school vacation, his best friend Hoshino beats up the school bully then takes his place. immediately starting to extort money from fellow students including Yuichi. Hoshino assigns Yuichi to safeguard the money generated from a female classmate, Shiori Tsuda, who is forced to sleep with older men for money. He also becomes implicated in the brutal rape of Yoko Kuno, a heavily teased girl on whom he has a crush.

Born in 1963 in Japan, Shunji Iwai began his career directing music videos and television dramas. Following his debut feature Love Letter (1995), other films include Picnic (1996), Swallowtail (1996) and April Story (MIFF 1999).

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