goes by Marie, but her parents call her Mari. That gives you an idea of the
generational divide separating them. Frankly, the prospective Olympian is not
inclined to deal with her family or her heritage, but a possibly career-ending
injury sparks a fantastically-charged journey into her subconscious that may
very well change everything (one way or another) in Daryn Wakasa’s short film Seppuku, which screens as part of
the Shorts 18g program at this year’s Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival.
holds the record for the 400 meter, but she will probably miss the Olympics due
to a torn hamstring. Surgery would be the logical course of action, but Mari is
acting on emotion, lashing out at her parents and defiantly training anyway.
Her workout looks painful even before she crashes and blackouts.
Mari finds herself in the desert, accompanied by Bettari, a Ghost of Christmas
Future-like figure, who also bears some resemblance to the nurse she
encountered earlier in the day. Mari will dutifully follow Bettari (presumably
a reference to the bridal kimono-wearing “nothing but blackened teeth” Ohaguro
Bettari Yokai spirits) to the Manzanar internment camp, where she will face an
increasingly strange series of challenges.
Seppuku was shot
on-location at Manzanar and a medical office, both of which look like really
depressing places to spend Purgatory. However, Seppuku boasts an impressive, feature worthy cast, including emerging
star Akemi Look, a former member of the U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics team, who has
the appropriate athleticism and stubborn intensity to convincingly portray
Tomita (Look’s co-star in the ridiculously underseen Unbidden) is totally believable and ultimately quite touching as
Mari’s long-suffering mother Linda and Tomita’s Karate Kid II co-star Yuji Okumoto buttresses the film with his
solid, dignified presence as her father, Thomas. It is always great to see
them, but in this case, their grounded performances really help anchor the
Short film-making is usually an adventure in
scarce resource allocation, but cinematographer Ernesto Lomeli really makes the
desert scenes look cinematically surreal. This is definitely a feature-quality
short and the twenty-five-minute running time should be sufficiently long enough
for most viewers to emotionally engage with it. Recommended for psychologically
expressive, socially-conscious cinema, Seppuku
screens this Saturday (2/18) during the 2017 Hollywood Reel Independent
Labels: Akemi Look, HRIFF '17, Short Films, Tamlyn Tomita, Yuji Okumoto