Helsinki Cine Aasia 2019 opening film is Shuichi Okita’s Mori, The Artist’s Habitat


Helsinki Cine Aasia’s 2019 opening film is the warm-hearted drama, Mori, The Artist’s Habitat (モリのいる場所, 2018) by the Japanese director, Shuichi Okita. Shuichi Okita will also be visiting Helsinki Cine Aasia and be present in the screenings of his film.

Shuichi Okita is known for his portrayals of ordinary, yet in their own way, special characters. This time, the subject under his observation is the highly-regarded, late artist Morikazu Kumagai on whom the main character in Mori, The Artist’s Habitat is based.

Mori, The Artist’s Habitat depicts one day in the life of 94-year-old Morikazu Kumagai, played by Tsutomu Yamazaki. The artist lives together with his wife, Hideko (lovely, late grand old lady of Japanese cinema, Kirin Kiki, in one of her last roles), and a housemaid called Mie-chan (Nobuke Iketani) in the Ikebukuro neighbourhood in Tokyo in a house surrounded by a small but luscious garden. The artist has not left his home in decades and spends his time in fascinated observation of flora and fauna in his small garden. Day after day the world comes for a visit in the form of various visitors, each more peculiar than the one before.

Okita creates a depiction of Kumagai and his inner circle that is leisurely paced, perceptive and loving. The film is also tinted by a touch of comedy that is typical of the director.

Shuichi Okita, born 1977, has graduated from Nihon University, College of Art, Department of Cinema. He has written and directed several films and TV-series during his career. Okita found his way into the hearts of the Finnish audiences already in the early days of Helsinki Cine Aasia with his likable The Chef of South Polar (南極料理人, 2009). Of his films, A Story of Yonosuke (横道世之介, 2013), Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday (滝を見にいく, 2014) and The Mohican Comes Home (モヒカン故郷に帰る, 2016) have also been previously seen at Helsinki Cine Aasia.

Helsinki Cine Aasia’s full festival programme will be revealed on Tuesday 26th February, and tickets go on sale on Thursday 28th February.