Shell and Joint Dir: Isamu Hirabayashi (2019) [Nippon Connection 2020]

Shell and Joint    Shell and Joint Film Poster

Release Date: 2019

Duration: 154 mins.

Director: Isamu Hirabayashi

Writer: Isamu Hirabayashi (Script) 

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Keisuke Horibe, Kanako Higashi, Aiko Sato, Hiromi Kitagawa, Kaori Takeshita,

Website IMDB

Isamu Hirabayashi moved from the world of advertising and graphic design to indie films in 2001 and has made a number of shorts that have been selected for festivals like Locarno and Berlinale. Shell and Joint (2019) is his first feature and it is a truly unique title that shines with a visual opulence derived from someone with an eye for framing and a deep consideration for angles and colours, while its script shimmers with a comedic wit that tackles universal themes in a variety of genres and tones, as brought out in a series of stories that are enhanced by the look and sound of the film.

Opening proceeding are Nitobe (Keisuke Horibe) and Sakamoto (Mariko Tsutsui), two people who have been friends from childhood who now work together at the front desk of a capsule hotel. Nitobe has a particular fondness for philosophy and crustaceans while Sakamoto is fixated on suicide and winding up her friend during their long conversations. They form the manzai duo whose interactions rise in silliness as the film keeps revisiting them while guests come and go.

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Japanese Films at the Berlin Film Festival 2012 – Results

Berlinale 2012 finished yesterday and the Italian film Cesare Must Die walked away with the Golden Bear award (Best Motion Picture). The list of films walking away with silver bear awards (given to individual achievements in Directing, Acting and Short Film) saw an eclectic mix of films from stretching from Northern Europe to Sub-Saharan Africa. What happened to Japanese films in and out of competition?


Atsushi Wada's Great RabbitAtsushi Wada earned a Silver Bear award for the Best Short Film (Jury Prize) with “The Great Rabbit” anime short (seven minutes). It is described as “a magical animation that is also a profound conundrum.”

In another part of the festival programme, more specifically the Generation 14plus which is aimed at children fourteen and above) Isamu Hirabayashi’s “663114” anime short received a Special Mention honour from the Youth Jury. His film uses a cicada to explore parallels between Hiroshima’s atomic bombing and the recent disaster at Fukushima while asking questions about the future of the planet.

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