Mori, the Artist's Habitat
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An episode in the life of Mori (Tsutomu Yamazaki), an eccentric painter who practices his art in his garden, surrounded by insects, cats and the fish in his pond. With the exception of his wife (Kirin Kiki), he is hesitant to interact with people and rarely meets with anyone. This contributes to his legend, and his abode becomes a local attraction for nosy fans. His everyday harmony is shattered with the appearance of a film crew shooting a documentary about him and local eco-activists protesting against aggressive moves by developers. The planned modernisation will not only change the local landscape, but also destroy the microcosm of the garden, so integral to Mori’s art. The painter is a silent rebel devoted to observing nature and harmonious existence.
Mori, the Artist’s Habitat is yet another brilliant biography of an eccentric subject directed by Shuichi Okita. This time, it’s the avant-garde artist Morikazu Kumagai, known as the “Hermit Painter”, who gained fame for his depictions of nature and his vivid, stylized cat portraits. He spent most of his life in the garden behind his house, avoiding people and curious stares. This is where Okita shows him – the painter is fully devoted to creating art and contemplating, carving out an oasis untouched by time in the world of breakneck technological development which comes to mind when we think of Japan. Okita invites us to Mori’s garden, which resembles an enchanted bubble of the natural world, where the human and the non-human coexist, in spite of the hostility of the outside world, in keeping with an environmental philosophy.
Born in 1977 in Saitama. Award-winning director known for his unique humor and oddball biographies of odd characters. Author of over a dozen feature films. His career breakthrough came with A Story of Yonosuke. The Japan Feel-Good section includes three of his movies, acclaimed on the international festival circuit and showcasing his idiosyncratic style as one of the most empathetic observers of today’s Japan.
2009 Nankyoku ryōrinin / The Chef of South Polar
2012 Kitsutsuki to ame / The Woodsman and the Rain
2013 Opowieść o Yonosuke / Yokomichi Yonosuke / A Story of Yonosuke
2014 Taki wo mini iku / Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday
2016 Mohikan kokyōni kaeru / The Mohican Comes Home
2018 Mori, siedlisko artysty / Mori no iru basho / Mori, the Artist's Habitat
2020 Ora, Ora Be Goin' Alone
2021 Letnia opowieść / Kodomo wa wakatte agenai / One Summer Story
2022 Rybie dziecko / Sakana no ko / The Fish Tale