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A film by Isamu Hirabayashi / Japan / 2019 

Moscow International Film Festival

Official Selection  /  the 41st Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF)

It's the finest new Japanese film I've seen in months.

Hirabayashi Isamu has made several of the most inspired and original short films in Japanese film history, so it's no surprise that his long-awaited debut feature is remarkable. Shell and Joint is a fascinating puzzle film, both wryly humorous and deeply serious, which sets a new tone in Japanese cinema and opens up new possibilities for narrative cinema. It's the finest new Japanese film I've seen in months. 

Tony Rayns ( Film critic / Commentator / screenwriter )

This may be a chemical reaction of the brain.

- synopsis -

Nitobe and Sakamoto have been friends since childhood and now they work together at the front desk of a capsule hotel. Nitobe is interested in crustaceans and philosophy, whereas Sakamoto only thinks about suicide.
There are several customers in the capsule hotel, including a Finnish mother who has lost her child, a fugitive woman and a researcher who studies Daphnia.
However, their lives are just like the cells in a capsule hotel – they exist side by side but they never cross paths.
With crustaceans as the lead motive, the fragments of the characters' lives unfold around the themes of life, death and sex.

: 154min.

“Tell me.What was the roach's dream?”

“I just told you. It was to eat Brie de Meaux.”

It's either very realistic or extreme fantasy.

In the world of short movies, creative coloring and Isamu Hirabayashi's vision that keeps breaking free, this is finally his first long-lenght film.
The film captures all the living things, not only human beings, with both gentle and sharp insight and imagination.
That is the way of living for human beings, the way of living for souls trapped in dead bodies and sometimes the way of living for other living organisms.
That one thing is flying around freely going beyond time or space. We are surrounded by all the continuous and obvious things without being able to break off.
However, we exist without blending in with others. That existence just may be all there is.

A glance at the soul.

We don't know what comes after this moment.
We share the same time, but on the other side of the plain walls of the capsule hotel, the time I know is shorter than one millisecond.
The unforgotten memories from the past that happened in a foreign country. It is Hirabayashi's single lense that captures those things.

Humans Hirabayashi Isamu and his sharp team spin a new ground.

Planning, structure, script, filming and editing is done by Hirabayshi.
Music is made by Watanabe Takashi who has won the Japan Academy Prize.
Sound design is by Keitaro Iijima. The graphic designs in the play are by Ken Murakami. The impact illustrations are by Yumie Ogawa.
The producer team has of Tatsuo Ito and Madoka Katsumata, who form a high ability unit that has produced over fifty of the scenes.

Even then, we are alive. 

I don't know if there's a meaning to it though.
The things we're looking at may just be virtual images made by our brains.
The coffee I just had was tasty. Sex felt good.
Even the believable physical senses may just be mirages made by the soul.
Even then, from micro organisms to us humans, the journey of life still goes on.



Mariko Tsutsui

Hotel staff - Yoko Sakamoto

Birthplace: Yamanashi prefecture.
When studying in Waseda University, she appeared on Shoji Kokami’s stage play as the box-office star. She made her debut in the movie Otokotomodachi in 1994 (directed by Takumi Yamaguchi). After that she has appeared in movies, stage plays, tv shows and commercials.
Main roles in movies: Welcome to the quiet room (2007/ Director: Matsuo Suzuki), Achilles and the Tortoise (2008/ Director: Takeshi Kitano), The Hero Show (2010/ Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu), Love of Love (2016/ Director: Shion Sono)etc. She starred an NHK tv drama in 2014: Hana and An. She played the female lead of the Kano family, Tami Yamamoto. She starred the film Harmonium that was awarded with Cannes Jury Prize in 2016. She has achieved the crown of three by receiving prizes at Mainichi Film Awards, Yokohama Film Festival and Takasaki Film Festival.


Keisuke Horibe

Hotel owner - Nitobe

Birthday: March 25th, 1966. Birthplace: Tokyo.
He is a multi-talent who has worked as a broadcast writer as well as made the script and directed the movie Elevator Trap (2009).
Main roles in movies: Life Back Then (2011/ Director: Takahisa Zeze), Real (2013/ Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa), Tsumi No Yohaku (2015/ Director: Yuki Otsuka), Shippu Rondo (2016/ Teruyuki Yoshida), The Magnificent Nine (2016/ Yoshihiro Nakamura), Sekigahara (2017/ Masato Harada), NHK Drama Taira no Kiyomori(2012), Stage play Jeanne D'arc (2014), Ningen Fuusha (2017) etc.

Customers at the restaurant / Aiko Sato, Hiromi Kitagawa, Atsuko Sudo, Koharu kusumi
Mom・Sakura Sakurada / Kanako Higashi
Fossil salesperson・Ken Ishigai / Naoto Nojima
Woman in the fishing port / Karia Nomoto
A Finnish / 
Minna Vänskä
Woman in the shower room
 / Ayano Kudo
Dance collective・Joint / *Akiko Takakuwa, *Azusa Fujimoto, *Jongye Yang  (*Dairakudakan)
Tomomi Umako / Momoko Akiyama
A mite / Tatsuya Gasyuin
A fly / Takuya Fujisaki
A cockroach  / Takeshi Hirabayashi
A Beetle girl / Yuno Ohta
Women in the shower room / Saaya Yamasaki, Sanae Margaret
Girls and boys in countryside / Daiya Kunii, Azuru Murayama, Maika Ohtsu, Takuto Tohara
Woman and Man in apiary Tomoki Kimura, Supica Yufune
Researchers of Daphnia / Ruka Ishikawa, Tomohisa Takeda, Junpei Hashino, Kaori Takeshita 
Evading in bush / Maki Nishiyama, Mizuho Misato, Akihiro Kato
A girl in train / Rikako Harada
At Parent’s home / Naoko Takagi, You Hasegawa
At Patient’s room / Yuriko Oonuma, Masashi Tada, Kei Kato, Taku Koyama
Sauna and hairworm / Yusuke Itagaki, Hiroyuki Toritani, Yurika Yamamura
Sauna and a cicada-man / Kohei Mashiba, Takuya Fujimura, Mizuho Sone
Women’s Sauna1 / Mado Karasumori, Hajime Osamu
Women’s Sauna2 / Mayumi Yamamoto, Mitsue Banzai
Insect’s language / Masayuki Tanaka, Mika
In the capsule / Ai Hoshikawa


Director's Statement

I have spent the past 17 years making some 20 short films.
Shell and Joint represents my first ever feature-length production, asking the big questions like, “What is the shape or condition of life? And conversely, of death?” Perhaps death is the more universal natural and common condition, while life is something of a journey of a free will; a short trip that ends with death.
I wanted to make a film that explores that theme, free of the usual conventions of cinematic structure. I wanted to be free. If life is freedom, so is art.

Isamu Hirabayashi / Director

- Director’s Biography & Filmography -

Isamu Hirabayashi was born in 1972 and graduated from Musashino Art University.
After a carrier in graphic design, he became an audio visual director. While directing commercial movies mainly, he started making independent short films.
Internationally acclaimed, some of them were screened at the Directors' Fortnight, the Venice International Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Locarno International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. He received the Special Mention for “663114” at the Berlinale and the Special Mention for “Babin” at the Locarno Festival.
His shorts amounting to 20 in 2019 vary from live-action adaptation to animated or experimental genres. “Shimajiro’s Wow,” an educational program for children for which he has been working as a general director since 2012, was nominated for the Emmy Awards as well as at the Banff World Media Festival.


Music : Takashi Watanabe
Assistant Composer : Ken Aoki, Miyu Nakahara, Lantan, Kevin Lin
Vocal : Midori Kurata
  Mixing Engineer : Mamiko Katakura

Sound Design / Re-recording Mixer : Keitaro Iijima
Recording : Yasuo Hijikata
Foley Artist / Foley Editor : Akihiro Iizuka
Clow : Momoko Iijima

Art Director : Ken Murakami
Illustrator : Yumie Ogawa
Still Photographer : Kohide Nakashima

Hair & Make up : Seiji Kamikawa, Nobuko Okuno, Chise Fujioka, Kohta Tanabe, Makiko Wada

Gaffer : Yasuhiro Nomur, Takamasa Furukawa
Production Design : Katsuaki Gotoh, Sayaka Mizutani
Costume Design : Sayaka Takahashi
Assistant Costume Design : Emi Nakanishi

Offline Editor : Mina Yonezawa
Translation : Anthony Kimm
Muppet Maker : Arata Kawaguchi
Assistant Production Manager : Hideo Tabunoki, Yuki Nakazawa, Mone Yotsuya, Ryo Sato,
Kohei Suzuki, Masahiro Oyama

Choreographer : Emiko Agatsuma

Filming Location Cooperation :
Nine hours Shinjuku North, Do-C Ebisu, Ryutsu Keizai University, Ashikagashi Toubu Clean Center, Mitsubachi Farm, Nagusa Furusato Kouryuukan, Chiba Urban Monorail, Fujiyoshida Municipal Hospital, Iwaitomiura Gyogyokyodokumiai, Mokumokuhouse Inc., SAIRAM in Kamakura

Filming Location Coodinator :
Ashikagashi Eizounomachi Suishinka, Kazunari Shimizu, Kyonapika Jikkouiinkai, Yoko Okazaki
Location Vehicle : Buick

Thanks : 
Pretzel, TENGA Co.,Ltd. Iroha, TOKYO SCIENCE CO.,LTD,
AQUA GAJU COMPANY ( Masaki Matsuura, Yuichi Owada, Kagari Hara ), KONAKA, Kenbikyoya,
Komoto Kogyo ( Masanao Hasegawa, Akiko Hasegawa )

Special Thanks : 
Keisuke Yui, Fumie Shibata/design studio S, Akinori Tabei, Sadako Tabei, 
Toshiko Yasuda, Shota Iizumi, Teruko Iizumi, Yoshiko Iizumi, 
Nagasaki Family, Katsumata Family, Chiori Fujita, Ani Watanabe, 
Oasis Sound Design, Oasis Studio Home, Studio301, Lucky Lighting, 
NVC, Light Publicity Co., Ltd., Actio Inc.,  
Myssyfarmi Oy / Hanna Jauhiainen, Irja Mäkelä
Sysmän kunta / Raija Hänninen
Tervalepikon Torpat / Taina & Vesa Blomqvist
Sysmä / Lautaportti
Me Naiset  / Annakaisa Vääräniemi
Finland 100th
Hironori Kogure

Line Producer : Yoshimi Ishii
Production Manager : Yoko Tabunoki, Kazu Haruno
Project Producer : Yoko Okazaki
Production : DASH CO., LTD., Chromarhythm Inc.,

Producer :
Tatsuo Ito
Madoka Katsumata

Shell and Joint Film Partners

1-15-2  DASH Building, Shinkawa, Chuo-ku, 104-0033 Tokyo, Japan

Chromarhythm Inc.
4-8-1 Higashiueno, TIXTOWER UENO 1708 Taito-ku, 110-0015 Tokyo, Japan

4-17-33  GC2F Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, 107-0062 Tokyo, Japan


Like mandala, it was extremely interesting. Scene by scene the film didn't only touch me emotionally but it also made me feel gloomy. The film had lots of both sides, so I just want to watch it endlessly.

My mind got really disturbed.
I felt the kind of thrill that can't be experienced everyday.

It was a great movie experience.
It felt like I was entirely showered with its originality.
I want to see it on a big screen one more time!

It was a beautiful film.
Sex - reproduction acts = sexual desire. Living things.. It was interesting.
It was unforgettable.

The feeling of breaking through to freedom was impressive! 
Hirabayashi, you did it!

I got really tired, but in a good way.
It felt like peeking into different kind of people's lives for those 154 minutes.

“I'm telling you this is how cicadas suck sap. That's because I'm a cicada.
I was underground for years.”

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