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Japan, 2000 (MIFF 2002, Regional Focus)

Director: Shunichi Nagasaki

Five-year-old Yuka disappears without a trace from a resort cottage in idyllic Hokkaido. Her mother, Kasumi, is distraught and won't let go of the idea that her daughter is somewhere, alive. For five years she returns to Hokkaido, hoping to find a clue. Her quest is shadowed by a detective, Utsumi, who has his own reasons for wanting to be involved.

A Tender Place's approach is in the vein of Dutch director George Sluizer's classic The Vanishing (1988). Red herrings, dead ends, frustrating clues all combine to heighten the tension. The film develops a novelistic depth of characterisation and richness of plot, showing us several possible explanations for the disappearance before making us realise that we (along with Kasumi) have been looking in the wrong place.

"The compulsive drive of the classic detective structure ... An absorbing mood piece, rich in detail, raw in emotional charge, thought-provoking, gripping and poignant. A Tender Place is nothing short of a masterpiece." - Midnight Eye, Cult Japanese Cinema

Shunichi Nagasaki's shorts, made while still at college, established his reputation even before his graduation. Nagasaki is now into his fourth decade as a filmmaker with titles including Heart Beating in the Dark (1982), The Enchantment (1989), Wild Side (1993) and Shikoku (1999).

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