Cast: Kumiko Komiyama, Waichiro Murata
Official Selection, 2018 Berlin International Film Festival
A happy stray cat with a fish in its mouth could be the emblem for INLAND SEA, the latest film by master documentarian Kazuhiro Soda. Ambling through the streets of the aging fishing village of Ushimado, Soda and his wife/producer Kiyoko Kashiwagi discover treasures where others would quickly pass by.
The film begins as a portrait of 86–year-old fisherman Wai-chan, at once virile and stiffly bent in half from years of work. It then follows his fish to grocer Koso-san, a charming, self-described “late-stage elderly” woman, whose daily deliveries around town take on the quality of social work. Filming handheld for maximum mobility, Soda’s curiosity is unbounded. So when a relatively young couple shows up at Koso-san’s shop and starts buying large amounts of fish heads and offal, he follows them home, meeting two huge beautiful litters of wandering cats. From there, he joins a passing villager on her tour of the town’s multi-layered, disarrayed ancestral graves. And then onto another encounter – each meeting, a mix of playful humor and the deadpan grief of long-time misfortune.
At turns aloof and affectionate, mysterious and everyday, patient and nimble, INLAND SEA’s spirit is infectious. The seeming ease with which the film carries you through Ushimado’s winding, weird landscape is a mark of Soda’s skill and artistic bravery.
– Lev Kalman