Programmed by Corinne Bopp
Wai-chan is one of the last remaining fishermen in Ushimado, a small village in Seto Inland Sea, Japan. At the age of 86, he still fishes alone on a small boat to make his living, dreaming about retirement. Kumi-san is an 84-year-old villager who wanders around the shore everyday. She believes a social welfare facility “stole” her disabled son to receive subsidy from the government. A “late-stage elderly” Koso-san runs a small seafood store left by her deceased husband. She sells fish to local villagers and provides leftovers to stray cats.
In this village by Japan’s Inland Sea, the majority of inhabitants are the ageing guardians of withering traditions. Whilst Kazuhiro Soda offers a documentary of this imminent demise, he also engages on the road to fiction, with subtlety and determination. The metaphorical dimension of the film’s circular structure, associated with the abstraction of monochrome image, delves this narration into shimmering reverie, punctuated with shadows. Inland Sea begins and comes to a close with the work of Wai-shi, a solitary and silent fisherman, and with the continuous voice of Kumi, the local gossip. But are all these gestures, these faces and these unveiled secrets real, or are they the fruit of the imagination of the many cats that now populate the village? Wild but satiated cats that are easy to approach and caress, and that somewhat condescendingly observe this petty human theatre. Thanks to their many lives, these felines are the genuine kings of the castle, and will safely survive its demise.
General delegate for the Rencontres du cinéma documentaire(Périphérie)