Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square


Year: 1997
Country: Japan
Run Time: 95 minutes

You know the Japan of international features like "Shall We Dance?", "Okaeri" (21st CIFF, 1997); "Cold Fever" or "Kamikaze Taxi" (20th CIFF, 1996): a crowded, urbanized high-speed society where greenspace exists maily at golf courses and expensive spas. But you don't know the Japan of Suzaku. This is the south region of Nara Prefecture, heavily-forested domain of mountains and magnificant cedars, where the human inhabitants dwell in rural villages and farms. The rhythm of life moves at an undisturbed pace, hauntingly captured by Naomi Kawase's first feature. For generations the Tahara family has lived here, dwarfed by the natural surroundings, and isolation is taking its toll. Restless chldren and old people too feeble to fend for themselves leave the village for far-off cities and nursing homes, never to return. Kozo Tahara believes a railway tunnel through the mountain, linking them to the rest of Japan, can reverse the steadily ebbing populace. That's in 1971; then the narrative skips ahead 15 years, and we find out what has changed - and what has not - for the Taharas and their dwindling supply of neighbors. "Suzaku" is the name of a Chinese god, guardian of the province, but it's cinema, in both Kozo's treasured 8mm camera and Naomi Kawase's docu-realist lens, that strives to preserve a forgotten corner of Japan from time and neglect. (In Japanese with English subtitles)

Naomi Kawase

Naomi Kawase

Takenori Sento, Koji Kobayashi

Masaki Tamura

Shuichi Kasesu

Principal Cast
Jun Kunimura, Machiko Ono, Sachiko Izumi, Kotaro Shibata

Film Contact
Donate >


Your donation helps fulfill our mission to promote artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition.

Sign up for our email newsletter

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • youtube
  • flickr
  • alexa
  • foursquare



We promise you, it will make a difference!

Give Today