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Japan, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Brain Monkey Sushi)

Director: Hidenori Sugimori

An accomplished debut feature that boasts the kind of impossibly gorgeous imagery that punctuates the films of Tran Anh Hung (Cydo, Vertical Roy of the Sun). Woman of Water is a meditative, Zen-like film exploring the world of Ryo, the rain woman, who seems to have the power to bring about a torrential downpour when emotion moves her.

Stories, moving back and forward in time, depict Ryo's melancholy but wondrous world. She loses both her father and fiance on one tragic day, closes the family bath house and flees to Mt. Fuji for solace. Upon her return she hires Yusaku, a fugitive and reformed arsonist, to stoke the fires that heat the baths. Unfortunately for both, the balance of the worlds of fire and water cannot be maintained.

Still in development, the film collected the Best Script prize at Sundance in 2001 then went on to prestigious screenings at Toronto in 2002, Berlin and Sundance in 2003. It strikes a profound and unusual balance between the traditional and very modern, employing the substantial talents of Japanese singer and poet UA, as Ryo, and Japan's hottest actor Tadanobu Asano (Electric Dragon 80,000V, Gojoe, MIFF 2001), as firebug Yusaku. Hypnotic and mythical.

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