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The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky

Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, this boldly erotic yet movingly tender portrait of a group of vulnerable, variously wounded people — a depressed housewife, her high-school-aged lover, and his best friend, who is struggling to provide for himself and his senile grandmother — whose intersecting lives yield both sorrow and a fragile, yet enduring, hope for a brighter future. (TIFF)

Homeland (Ieji)

Jiro has come home. His tiny former farming village is now deserted because it lies in the zone near Fukushima which was badly contaminated after the nuclear disaster. Nonetheless, the young man begins cultivating his land. An old school friend helps him and together they plant rice as the sun shines and radioactivity spreads. It’s like slow suicide, says Jiro’s friend. Jiro’s half-brother Soichi, who has never had Jiro’s green fingers and was therefore always a disappointment to their father, has been evacuated with his wife, small daughter and step-mother. He is now living in a temporary settlement where the houses are all so alike that his step-mother has trouble finding her way around. He can’t believe his ears when he learns that Jiro has moved into her old house. Soichi’s step-mother, who is Jiro’s biological mother, never got over Jiro leaving. Why has he decided to return now, of all times, to these poisoned fields? [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]