Japan / 2022
104 min. / Original version with English subtitles
As elegant and deceptively simple as its title, Tatsunari Ota’s ISHI GA ARU reduces narrative and plot to questions of time, movement, and encounter. The film opens with a nameless woman arriving in a small town, out of seeming nowhere. “Is there anything nice around here?” she asks a local, “Something fascinating?” Her inquiry met with a near-blank stare, she thus drifts, eventually encountering a man skipping stones by the river. Together they pass the afternoon engaged in playful outdoor activities like balancing sticks, stacking stones and more. Finally, they part – their time together curtailed by the inevitable waning daylight – with the unexpected emotional import of their time together left rippling like the water over one of their submerged pebbles.
While structured around central characters and narrative in nature, the film invites a form of spectatorship more closely associated with dance or performance art. Throughout, Ota emphasises the physical and emotional exchanges between strangers, as well as between humans and nature. As if in response to the woman’s early query, ISHI GA ARU quietly reorients our expectations and understanding of fascination. (Jesse Cumming)
Production Tatsunari Ota, Sachihiko Tanaka, Kotaro Kimura. Production companies Tatsunari Ota (Tokio, Japan), Sachihiko Tanaka (Tokio, Japan), Kotaro Kimura (Tokio, Japan). Director Tatsunari Ota. Screenplay Tatsunari Ota. Cinematography Yuji Fukaya. Editing Keiko Okawa. Music Shu Oh. Sound design Young Chang Hwang. Sound Naru Sakamoto. Assistant director Yui Kiyohara. Production manager Koji Toyama. With An Ogawa, Tsuchi Kanou.
Tatsunari Ota, born in Fukushima, Japan in 1989, he studied film. His graduation film BUNDESLIGA was shown at the Pia Film Festival in 2017. His second film ISHI GA ARU premiered at Tokyo FILMeX.
Films: 2016: Bundesliga / Bundesliga (65 min.). 2022: Ishi ga aru / There Is a Stone.