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Japan, 1997 (MIFF 1998, Regional Features)

Director: Sabu

An audience favourite at Montreal, Sundance and Rotterdam Film Festivals, Postman Blues is a terrifically entertaining farce directed by Sabu, one of the rising stars of Japanese cinema's next wave. The film reflects the deep alienation and fanatical media fixation of contemporary youth culture in Japan and relates the story of Sawaki, a postman who lives a quiet, dull and routine life. While making his daily rounds Sawaki runs into Noguchi, an old friend who has now become a dope dealer. Noguchi sneaks a package of drugs into his old buddy's sack but inadvertently Noguchi's finger, which was severed in Yakuza (Japanese gangster) tradition to atone for failure, also falls into the mailbag.

That evening Sawaki begins opening the mail he was supposed to deliver. When he reads a letter from a girl named Sayoko, who is dying of cancer, he becomes fascinated by the stranger's tragedy, rushes to her bedside where he is befriended by a professional hit man, Joe. During the wild turn of events that follows, the police discover Noguchi's finger in Sawaki's apartment and he becomes wanted for mutilation and murder. With the unexceptional young postman suspected by over-eager vice squad detectives of being a major hit man and drug dealer, escalating chaos ensues.

Director Sabu reveals a societal undercurrent of violence and the deep malaise of urban life beneath the surface of Japanese conformity. A simmering combination of action, comedy and drama, the film is a flourish of visual style and vivid performances. Building to a roaring crescendo, Postman Blues sketches a gripping portrait of rage, resistance and the fulfilment of desire.

Born in Japan in 1964, Sabu began his professional career as a musician and singer before switching to acting. He starred in Katsuhiro Otomo's World Apartment Horror, a performance which saw him voted Best New Actor at the Yokohama Film Festival. Sabu made his directorial debut in 1996 with D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner and promptly earned the Best New Director Award, again at Yokohama.

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