Seiji Tanaka, 2018 (114m)
Kazuhiko is an unemployed university graduate, still living at home with his parents. Despite being overqualified for the job, he is eventually hired by the owner of a local bathhouse as a cleaner and attendant. One night after work, Kazuhiko accidentally discovers his workplace’s dark secret: it is secretly used by the yakuza as a place to execute people. When spotted by the killers, they offer him a deal - they’ll let him live as long as he helps them with their unpleasant after hours work. With no other option, socially awkward Kazuhiko finds himself working as a very different type of cleaner. Melancholic is a film that makes you expect it’s going one direction, before leading you down another one altogether. It elegantly manages to be a darkly comic yakuza thriller as well as an unexpectedly sweet and understated drama. A deserving winner of Best Director in the Tokyo International Film Festival’s Japanese Cinema Splash category, this is a bold, surprising and charming debut feature from director Seiji Tanaka.