Gatekeeper

  • Yung Chang
  • Canada, United States
  • 2016
  • 39 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • Panorama
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The cliffs of Tojinbo are beautiful and perilous. This place has a harrowing reputation that forms part of the attraction for photo-snapping day trippers: it is one the most popular sites for suicide in Japan, the country whose annual figure of 25,000 suicides puts it near the top of the global list. Former police detective Yukio Shige recalls how when he set up a suicide prevention service in 2004, people asked, “Are you stupid? How do you expect to save someone if they’re already doomed?” Working alongside a group of volunteers, he now carries out daily patrols along the jagged coastline, hoping to talk potential jumpers out of killing themselves. If they decide to come back to the support base, they will find a listening ear and a comforting meal of oroshi-mochi. The camera remains at a respectful distance as young men unburden themselves about financial woes and family pressures. Yukio Shige calls one particularly harsh mother to urge her to be more understanding of her son – one of the hundreds of people who owe their lives to these volunteers.

Credits

  • 39 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Japanese
  • Subtitles in: English
Director
Yung Chang
Production
Eriko Miyagawa for Brave River Films, Bob Moore for EyeSteelFilm, Yung Chang for EyeSteelFilm
Executive producer
Mila Aung-Thwin for EyeSteelFilm, Daniel Cross for EyeSteelFilm, Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack, Charlotte Cook for Field of Vision, Joseph Tzeng
Cinematography
Alan Poon
Editing
Sophie Leblond
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IDFA history

2016
Dutch Premiere
Panorama

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IDFA history