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AFTER LIFE

Japan, 1998 (MIFF 1999, International Panorama)

Director: Hirokazu Kore-Eda

Hirokazu Kore-eda has two previous MIFF hits under his belt and once again proves his irrepressible talent. After Life is set in a purgatory or limbo which looks an awful lot like an old brick school on a perfect autumn day. Guides assist the newly dead in selecting their most treasured memory, the one that they will take with them to eternity.

While some people have no trouble choosing, oth­ers agonise over the decision. A multitude of stories emerge—funny, touching, thought-provoking—most of them gleaned from hundreds of interviews that Kore-eda and his staff conducted with ordinary citizens, some of whom appear in the film.

Teenage bimbos, rebellious punks and war veterans choose from memories of sexual encounters, childbirth, train rides, dance lessons and their final cigarette. The staff, meanwhile, gather to discuss various cases espe­cially those in danger of never recovering a truly joyous memory. A beautiful, spiritually rich idea handled in poignant cinematic fashion.

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