IFFR KINO #18: After Life

On Wednesday 7 November, we show the second feature film by Japanese master filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu. After Life (1998) is an engaging fantasy about life after death. Introduction: Tom Mes

Kore-eda is a close friend of IFFR. In total, we’ve screened 10 of his feature films, 2 mid-lengths and 1 TV series, and we’ve welcomed him in Rotterdam three times. After Life was shown at IFFR in 1999.

In the film, Kore-eda imagines a thought-provoking scenario: somewhere between heaven and earth there is a house where social workers help the freshly deceased to sort out their memories. The aim is to track down a moment of ultimate happiness that they can take with them to heaven. That moment will be their personal heaven. Anyone who doesn't succeed is doomed to stay in purgatory.

In the almost-documentary style for which Kore-eda is known, the story focuses on a group of new arrivals. Some are played by amateur actors who are clearly talking about their own memories.

You could say that the premise of After Life is a kind of religious fantasy, but Kore-eda tackles it in a sensitive and very human way.

Why screen it now?
Well, that’s obvious. Kore-eda’s latest film Shoplifters was the big winner at Cannes Film Festival 2018, winning the Golden Palm and universally delighting audience members. This film will screen in Dutch theatres from December 2018. Get your homework done in advance and watch his wonderful second feature After Life.

After Life, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 1998, Japan, 118’