The Land of Hope
Kibou no Kuni
Directed by Sono Sion
“This is an invisible war. Invisible bullets and missiles are around us!” shouts a survivor in The Land of Hope, Japan’s first narrative feature inspired by the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Set in the fictional prefecture of Nagashima, the film dramatizes the effect of an eerily similar catastrophe on a small farming town. Two families whose homes fall on opposite sides of the evacuation border must confront hard choices about whether to leave, and whose orders to follow. The elderly Onos have deep reasons for not wanting to abandon their dairy farm, while their son Yoichi and his wife Izumi fear the insidious effects of radiation on Izumi’s pregnancy. Meanwhile, the Suzuki’s’ son helps his girlfriend search for her parents in a devastated landscape.
Writer-director Sion Sono, known for over-the-top cult films like Suicide Club, Love Exposure, and Guilty of Romance, continues his more recent turn towards dramas haunted by all-too-real fears. The Land of Hope shows the moral dilemmas faced by people who want to move on from tragedy without abandoning the essence of who they are. Combining naturalistic settings with surreal imagery (like a woman shopping for groceries with a Geiger counter), the film shows the increasing difficulty of determining who is more reasonable: those who insist that life must go on as normal, or those who take up arms against the invisible war around them.
Producer: Mizue Kunizane, Yuji Sadai, Yuko Shiomaki
Cinematographer: Shigenori Miki
Writer: Sion Sono
Editor: Junichi Ito
Sound: Hajime Komiya