Yu Irie (center)
NEW YORK, June 29 – At the Walter Reade Theater, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) screened a Japanese indie hit film called 8,000 Miles (Saitama no Rappa). The movie was shown twice drawing huge crowds.
8,000 miles is a musical comedy about a group of unknown rappers in the Saitama prefecture (a suburb of Tokyo). It tackles serious social issues in Japan including the Asian economic crisis, NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training), parasite singles, and unemployment. It might seem like a very didactic film, but it’s not. The narrative maintains a funny and light-hearted tone by couching the issues in several hilarious scenarios. The director does a wonderful job at balancing the social message with a great deal of humor.
After the screening, director Yu Irie (入江 悠) participated in a lively Q&A with the audience. He talked about growing up Saitama, the Japanese indie movie circuit, and receiving The Grand Prix at the Yabari International Fantastic Film Festival.
Towards the end of the evening, the NYAFF invited the audience to a special reception with the director. Irie used the event as an opportunity to document some of the audience response. He encountered various people including a local American-Japanese rapper. The event was sponsored by Kirin Beer.