Daigo MatsuiJapan100 minutes2016ColourJapaneseNorth American Premiere
When cryptic graffiti, borrowed from a missing person's poster, begins to appear all over town, a mysterious group of high school girls starts attacking men at random, in Daigo Matsui's edgy, experimental drama.
Haruko Azumi is missing: graffiti stencils of her face in every colour loom on the suburban streets. It's an image that will haunt Japanese Girls Never Die as the story shifts back in time, foreshadowing Haruko's disappearance and lending each shot of her with a sense of impending dread.
This provocative, postmodern drama from director Daigo Matsui is a radical cinematic protest against misogyny in contemporary Japanese society. From its frenetic energy, intertwining storylines emerge: Haruko (Yu Aoi) is an unhappy and isolated 27-year-old office clerk who lives with her parents.
At work she endures inappropriate comments from her bosses about her appearance and age; though her life at home with her parents is equally wearing, she finds some solace in the embrace of her reclusive lover, a former classmate. Meanwhile, a Banksy-like, three-person graffiti team called Kilroy cause a stir as they franticly stencil Haruko's missing-person image in every corner of the city; and a mysterious gang of high-school girls begin randomly attacking men at night.
Matsui's punchy, feminist film strikes on multiple levels, satirizing the art world's consumer-crazed culture and subverting the fetishized image of the schoolgirl. Japanese Girls Never Die is in tune with the unbounded energy of a new generation, a strange and spirited story unlike any other.
It's absolutely wild and insane, but still has something to say about art and expectations. — Ben Sagar, TIFF Next Wave Committee