The 86-year-old fisherman Wai-chan knows that eventually he should retire, but he puts it off for another year. His back is bent but his gaze is clear as he steers his boat out onto the Japanese inland sea to put out his nets, from which he’ll retrieve the fish later that night.
Following the fish, from the fishmonger to the customers and finally to the stray cats who get the leftovers, director Kazuhiro Soda meets other inhabitants of Ushimado, most of them elderly. This is also where he made the film Oyster Factory. At a gentle pace, he paints a richly varied portrait of this small but tight-knit community in a place that modernization has passed by.
Soda describes Inland Sea as an observational documentary, but he doesn’t keep a distance. On the contrary, he chats amiably, takes the time to listen, follows passersby, and captures striking details and sometimes moving displays of emotion. Although he filmed in color, at the last minute he opted to switch to black and white, which gives the film a poetic sheen. Keep watching until the very last shot.