Sion Sono's Latest LAND OF HOPE In Production W/Third Window, Rapid Eye Movies, & Joint Entertainment

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
Sion Sono is something of a hero here at Twitch, especially since he made the turn from horror meister to auteur with Love Exposure in 2008. Sono's latest production, Land of Hope, which began production this week.  Land of Hope is a post-3/11 tsunami drama, though I'm sure you can imagine that coming from him it won't be your typical garbage.

The press release, which I frustratingly cannot manage to copy and paste, says this about the project:
Now, the director, who has been has been attracting a great deal of attention both domestically and overseas, thought that he needed to make a film with the specific theme of what is now happening in Japan. This fantasy of the reality of nuclear power and people's recovery & re-construction should be told to people everywhere around the world is a facet of his natural and genuine mission as a filmmaker. Having finalised the script the film started shooting January 13th, with completion expected Spring 2012
This is all very exciting, and with the film slated to wrap up this Spring, Sono plans to have it in theaters by the Summer.  The two main production companies behind Land of Hope are Mizue Kunizane and Yuji Sadai, however, the more interesting to note are the co-producers behind the film. International support for Land of Hope comes from Germany's Rapid Eye Movies (Underwater Love), Taiwan's Joint Entertainment, and our buddies in the UK, Third Window Films, who are making their first step into the world of film production with this venture.

Third Window have set up a production office in Japan and this is, hopefully, just the first of their production ventures. Their deal includes the option for the rights to the film in the UK.

Here is the story synopsis from the press release:
In a typical Japanese village, Yoichi Ono lives with his wife, Izumi, and his parents, Yasuhiko and Chieko. The Ono family are dairy farmers who live frugally but happily in the peaceful countryside. One day, and unbelievably huge earthquake occurs. They are forced to seek refuge away from home. However, Yoichi is attached to their lifetime family home, so he is hesitant to leave. Due to his wife's pregnancy, Yoichi must take action to protect his wife, Izumi, as well as their unborn child. That action is supposed to lead them to the land of hope, however...
I've spoken with Adam Torel of Third Window, and he says after reading the script, that this film has the potential to be Sono's masterpiece.  The film certainly sounds like a departure, and I hope that the exercise of spreading his wings proves successful for Sono. He appears to have his heart in this film, as this excerpt from his statement shows:
I make this movie because I want people to "relive" "that time" again, to go back into March last year. By reliving that day again, we will be able to appreciate the horrifying reality that we are forced into - the reality of having to live with radiation. That's what we must talk about now.
It is clear from his director's statement on The Land of Hope that Sono is not a fan of nuclear power, as very few people in Japan are these days. This film seems to be his way to make a statement about the future of his home country, which he obviously loves in spite of his past films' visions of Japan.

As is always the case, I'm very excited to see what Sono does with this material. I still haven't seen his last two films, but Sono seems to be growing exponentially as a filmmaker with every passing project. The Land of Hope, starring Isao Natsuyagi (The Wolves), Naoko Otani (Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters), Jun Murakami, Megumi Kagurazaka (Cold Fish, Guilty of Romance), and DenDen (Cure, Himizu), is due in Japanese theaters in late Summer 2012
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