Kotoko Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto
Kotoko is a single mother suffering from panic attacks of post-natal depression. Once she sees the world in double, thereafter strangers appear who want to seize the newborn from the mother. The worst nightmare for Kotoko is however a blinding fear that her son would die by her own hands, as she has taken to the limits of her sanity of ever increasing despair. As a last resort, she holds a frail connection to reality by frequently inflicting her body – wishing not to kill, the pain helps to remind that she is still alive. There might be just enough of spirit left, to somehow cope with surrounding horrors of life.
Fearing that the woman, succumbing deeper into insanity, would actually harm her child, Kotoko is being separated from her son, an act that finally wipes out her last bonds with the reality. Is the last chance for Kotoko’s redemption a strange writer confessing his love, or is it just another illusion generated by her delusional mind.
Having written the history of film with his famed "Tetsuo" cyberpunk series, the master of Japanese independent cinema, Shinya Tsukamoto returns with powerful, but similarly controversial glimpse into the darker sides of the human psyche and subconscious. KOTOKO has all of Tsukamoto’s favourite elements – the theme of human loneliness and efforts to locate one’s real self in a global world where reality is more and more an illusion created by the media; the moving camera articulating the inner struggle of the protagonists and likewise unsettling and hallucinatory soundtrack. In contrast to visual spectacle of his previous works, the director takes this time a 180 degree turn.
KOTOKO being inevitably his most intimate and low budgeted production, sets the audience face to face with our greatest subconscious fears and complexes: almost unbearable responsibility and fear for one’s child, the inability of the (Japanese society) to produce husbands accountable for supporting their spouses in childrearing, as well as the collossal effort that is needed to understand and care for one’s dearest suffering from depression or mental illness. Signaling clearly the comeback of Tsukamoto to the forefront of Japanese cinema, the Venice Orrizonti prized KOTOKO is an experience that warns, but also forces one to learn to forgive and contemplate.
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Length: 1h 31'
Producer: Shinya Tsukamoto
Script: Shinya Tsukamoto
DoP: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast: Cocco, Shinya Tsukamoto
Awards and festivals: Venice (Orrizzonti), Toronto, Busan