Vacation
Vacation

Vacation

Screening:

    Saturday 3 Oct 15:45

Runtime:

112 mins

Screening with "Alkaa Ja Paatya"
Director: Hajime Kadoi Country: Japan
Writer: Dai Sakô Original Format: 35mm
Dir. of Photography: Yukihiro Okimura Print Source: Eleven Arts
Producer: Toshihide Akama
Cast: Kaoru Kobayashi, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Nene Tsuka

Film Details

UK Premiere

Short Synopsis:

A middle-aged prison guard on death row volunteers to act as a “supporter” during the execution of a condemned prisoner, in order to receive a week’s break from work to go on honeymoon with a bride he barely knows.

Review:

Hirai is one of the uniformed ranks of guards working at a death row prison. Carrying out his duties emotionlessly and without question, he barely talks to anyone in the outside world about his daily routine as a public servant. Long past marrying age, he is introduced to a recent-bereaved single mother, Yuki, as part of an omiai (a formal arranged-marriage meeting), and selflessly agrees to take on responsibility for her and her young son.

As the day of the wedding grows closer, the Justice Minister signs the execution warrant for Kaneda, a model prisoner whose good behaviour belies the violent deeds of the past that landed him the death penalty. As is customary, the prison asks for two volunteers amongst the prison warders to act as a “crutch” - their duty to escort the condemned man to the gallows and hold him until the trapdoor opens. In return, the volunteer is to be given a week-long vacation for such a traumatic task. Hirai puts his name forward so he can spend more time with his new bride. As the day of both the wedding and the execution draws nearer, can the warders, as much prisoners of the system as the inmates themselves, maintain their composure in front of the condemned man?

Born in 1973, director Hajime Kadoi has created a mature and restrained drama that is emotive without ever being melodramatic and raises uneasy questions in one of the few developed countries where the death penalty remains.

JS

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