JUNE 13, 2024


When memory slips away, what do we know to be real anymore?

That’s the question asked by “Great Absence,” a new film that sees legendary Japanese actor Tatsuya Fuji return to the big screen in a father-son drama about life, death, mortality, and morality. Filmmaker Kei Chika-ura writes and directs the feature which centers on a rekindled family amid an Alzheimers diagnosis and a suicide.

The official synopsis reads: Distanced from his father Yohji (Tatsuya Fuji) for twenty years, actor Takashi (Mirai Moriyama) is brought back home by a jarring police call. Yohji has disconnected from reality due to dementia, and his second wife Naomi (Hideko Hara) is missing. Asked where she is, the old man replies that she committed suicide. While trying to find out about the stepmother, Takashi traces the past of Yohji he has never been able to accept. And since Yohji abandoned his family 20 years ago for Naomi, Takashi really has no idea how to figure out the mystery of her disappearance.

Fuji is one of the most acclaimed Japanese actors of his generation, having famously starred in Nagisa Ōshima’s erotic dramas “In the Realm of the Senses” and “Empire of Passion.” He also notably collaborated with Kiyoshi Kurosawa on 2003’s “Bright Future.

In addition to Fuji, Yoko Maki also stars in “Great Absence,” marking Chika-ura’s sophomore film after his debut “Complicity.”

“Great Absence” was shot by longtime Hirokazu Kore-eda collaborator Yutaka Yamazaki who previously was the cinematographer for films like “Still Walking” and “After the Storm.”

The feature premiered at TIFF 2023 and screened at the 2023 San Sebastián International Film Festival, where Fuji won the best actor award. “Great Absence” won the Best International Film title at the 2024 San Francisco International Film Festival.

“Great Absence” will have its New York premiere on July 18 at Japan Cuts 2024, where Fuji receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Kei Chika-ura and Fuji will participate in a post-screening Q&A discussion, followed by a festival reception.

IndieWire exclusively revealed the Japan Cuts 2024 lineup earlier this year, with black-and-white version of Hideaki Anno’s 2016 kaiju blockbuster “Shin Godzilla: ORTHOchromatic” and a 4k restoration of “Moving” among the highly anticipated debuts. The festival opens with “Between the White Key and the Black Key” and “Shadow of Fire” is the centerpiece feature.

“Great Absence” premieres July 19 in New York and July 26 in Los Angeles by distributor GAGA Corporation in association with Picturehouse. Check out the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below.