Rail Truck takes its inspiration from a short story, Torocco, published in 1922 by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, the writer from two of whose tales director Akira Kurosawa formed his legendary Rashomon. Rail Truck moves the Akutagawa story from its early 20th century setting on Japan's Izu Peninsula to present-day Taiwan, and grafts it into a story of family ties and growing up. The original story is familiar from their school days to most Japanese, and the passage of decades has not dimmed its appeal or weakened its impact.
‘I wanted to make Torocco into a film...but to start with even finding a location in Japan was almost impossible. What we encountered then was Taiwan, where there's still beautiful countryside that makes you feel somehow nostalgic,' says director Hirofumi Kawaguchi, who spent three years writing an original script for Rail Truck. It portrays a Tokyo family, in a state of collapse following the death of the father, that comes into close contact with hitherto far-removed relatives, and with a journey through its verdant setting finds reunification and revitalization.
'The great childhood adventure' is something many have experienced.
In the original short story, in the interval between getting on the rail truck and returning to his home, all of the world that falls under a boy's eyes, and those vital things that because of this world are stored away in his heart, are set out in a wide sweep without a trace of unnecessary explanation.
In this film, the boy's voyage from Japan and back is paralleled with the journey on the rail truck, and his discoveries and spiritual growth from this adventure are given a unique exposition in a deeply lyrical portrayal.
The film Rail Truck is a human drama that turns on the two universal themes of a boy taking his first steps toward adulthood, and the revitalization of a family on the verge of collapse, setting these against a quietly stated backdrop of Japan's relationship with Taiwan.
Yumiko Yano, with sons Atsushi and Toki, travels from her home in Tokyo with the ashes of her late husband to his parents' home, a mountain village in the south of Taiwan. Having been raised in the big city, the boys are wide-eyed at the verdant rural scenery...and waiting for them is a Taiwanese grandfather who speaks Japanese.
Yumiko, who married against her parents' wishes, has struggled on in stubborn determination since his death. Her son Atsushi, strongly conscious that in ethnocentric Japan he is ‘different', is in a state of rebellion against both the society in which he has grown up and his mother. In the verdant rural home of his grandparents, who have lived through vast changes in the political landscape and the values that prevail in society, the family rediscovers the bonds that unite it.
Setting out on a journey aboard an old-fashioned hand-powered ‘rail truck', Atsushi discovers a world outside of his family and his school, and is forced to confront the question of what it means to be both an ‘elder brother' and a ‘son'.
Born August 31, 1970, in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, he is a graduate in Scriptwriting of the Japan Academy of Moving Images.
Having worked as an assistant director on such films as Masahiro Shinoda's Spy Sorge, Takumi Igarashi's HAZAN (Golden Aphrodite winner at the 2004 Love is Folly International Film Festival, Bulgaria), and Eiji Okuda's A Long Walk (Grand Prix des Amériques winner at the 2006 Montreal World Film Festival), he now directs his first feature film.
Born in Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan, she took degrees at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and is now a professor at Osaka University of the Arts.
Kawai is a violinist and composer who combines state-of-the-art performance technique with distinguished creativity. Her shows are a dramatic, unprecedented mixture of violin and other genres. Her stellar work in the classical field is enhanced with a sense of originality stemming from the incorporation of various types of music.
Kawai has performed internationally with the Warsaw Philharmonic and world-renowned conductor Chung Myung-Whim, as well as with many of Japan's best-known orchestras. She has also worked with artists of different genres such as pop artists Sheila E. and The Gypsy Kings, and with such figure skaters as Shizuka Arakawa, Gold Medalist at the the Torino Olympics. Michelle Kwan used a Kawai piece, Red Violin, as she skated to world-wide fame.
Kawai is a major artist in Japan, with chart-topping CD sales and regular appearances on television. Her 8th album, The New World, features dramatic classical arrangements and original works; its release coincided with her appearance in the Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Known around the world as one of Asia's top cinematographers, he is most noted for his work with director Hsiao-hsien Hou.
Her film debut came at the age of 15 in director Naomi Kawase's Moe no suzaku, winner of the Golden Camera award at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival. Another film she appeared in, Shinji Aoyama's Eureka, won the FIPRESCI critics' award at Cannes in 2000, while a third, Kawase's The Mourning Forest, won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2007.
She has a wide international following as one of Japan's top character
35mm/Color/American Vista size 1:1.85/Dolby SR/116min
Language:Japanese, Chinese(Mandarin, Taiwanese)