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GONDOLA

Japan, 1986 (MIFF 1988, Asian Cinema Showcase)

Director: Chisho Itoh

In his highly accomplished, self-financed, first feature, Chisho Itoh focuses on the friendship that develops between Kagau a lonely, neglected Tokyo schoolgirl and Ryo a window cleaner, recently arrived in the big, high-rise-studded metropolis. She keeps birds and he dreams of his hometown, a northern fishing village where he eventually takes her to meet his family and perform a very special funeral ceremony.

Itoh's masterly direction features striking camera angles, with both sound and silence given equal significance in a beautifully suggestive drama which uses its tender tale to tell us something about what links human souls beyond mere words and why we seem always to yearn for the epic natural simplicities of earth, sea and sky It's a powerful theme which fuels quite a powerful film, that, despite a disappointing final reel, signals an original talent of enormous potential.

”While Itoh has paid close attention to his sets, locations, and imagery, he has not neglected his actors. Young Keiko Uemura as Kagau is subtle and superb, Kenta Kai in his first role plays Ryo with warmth, intelligence, and an understated sexuality, the performances grew out of Itoh s own personal relationship with them both.” David Overbey

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