This year’s Venice offers the most heavy-duty fest lineup since, mmm, who can count that far, as if half the world’s big-ticket auteurs would rather take a gondola than party on a yacht. Maybe none intrigue more than Evil Does Not Exist, a surprise feature by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi and follow-up to 2021’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy / Drive My Car double bill. (That’s maybe the single best one-two a director’s had in my lifetime, much as your mileage may vary.) If fittingly little’s been said, we now have insight from an especially unique angle: a second Hamaguchi feature for 2023, itself a spin on the soon-debuting film.
Belgium’s Film Fest Gent have announced they will debut Hamaguchi’s Gift on October 18, noting it “was developed in conjunction with Hamaguchi’s new feature film Evil Does Not Exist, which takes a different approach to the same footage and scenario.” Of equal note: Eiko Ishibashi, who brilliantly scored Drive My Car––and with whom we had an involved conversation last year––will accompany this premiere with a live score.
Read Gift‘s synopsis below, which itself suggests the direction we might expect from Evil Does Not Exist, and the first image:
Written and directed by Oscar nominee Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Gift is set in Mizubiki Village in Nagano, a town located on a plateau rich in nature not so far from Tokyo. The number of immigrants is on the rise, with very gradual development. Takumi and his daughter Hana, who have lived there for generations, lead a modest life, following the cycle of nature. One day, a plan is hatched to build a glamping site near Takumi’s house: an entertainment agency, which has fallen into financial difficulties due to the COVID disaster, has obtained a government subsidy and plans to set up a glamping site. However, the discovery that they intend to discharge sewage into the village water source causes unrest in the village, and the aftermath affects Takumi’s life as well.