Amidst billowing trees and the gentle rustling of golden-hued thickets, Suzaku entrenches itself in a forgotten way of life nestled deep within the mountainous stretches of Nara Prefecture—a natural paradise untouched by the ripples of modernization, existing as a world unto itself. Along winding dirt paths and gravel roads, the continual exodus of locals and a now-abandoned railroad project haunt the depressed town of Nishiyoshino-mura, the forestry village which teenager Michiru (Machiko Ono) and her family call home. When tragedy strikes, this small-town family must overcome the day-to-day struggles of quotidian life. Taking its title from the ancient Chinese deity known to be the guardian of the south, Suzaku is a natural extension of Kawase’s small-gauge documentary beginnings, brimming with the true realities and hardships of the region and gorgeously shot on 16mm.
Camera d’or, 1997 Cannes Film Festival
FIPRESCI Prize, 1997 International Film Festival Rotterdam
“This acutely observed minimalist drama washes over the audience in gentle brush strokes, creating a portrait of uncommon poignancy.”—Variety