Sebastián Nadilo shares his comments on the short film “Birdland” directed by Kogahara Takeshi (Japan) and screened at the 2019 Busan International Film Festival.
Cast: Shin Furukawa, Natsuko Fuji
“Birdland” is a beautiful and emotional journey to a man’s memory. Kogahara manages to tell a simple yet profound story that talks about love, memories, loneliness and old age.
The film tells the story of Koji an old and sick man who can barely live by his own. Since his son doesn’t visit him, he must rely on a social worker who comes from time to time to clean him and fix his house. After his wife Saki passed away, Koji gave up hope for life and just wait for death to come. One night he notices the snow falling which takes him to an emotional journey into his memories.
Kogahara’s film show us the fragility of old people and the loneliness that many experience in their last days. It is impossible not to emphasize with our main character and his pain. The film for sure will make us think about our own parents and possibly our own future as old people. Koji is in physical and psychological pain as he misses his dear wife. We can also tell from his room’s decoration that he was a birdwatcher and enjoyed having long walks at the park.
One night he sees the snow falling outside his window and he is instantly transported to his memories. Here lies the beauty of the film and how the director manages to awake in us emotions regarding love and devotion. We see Koji and Saki at a park, he is pushing her wheelchair with difficulty and she is admiring the scenery. We can also conclude that this was one of his last memories of her as Saki is already too sick to talk. With difficulty the two decides to walk off the trail and go near a small river. We then realize that one of the last promises was to visit the park together to watch the snow fall. Is our protagonist finally meeting with his wife for a walk at the park or is this another painful and hunting memory? That is for the viewer to decide.
Takeshi Kogahara who graduated from Art Center College of Design in the US, usually produce commercial or music videos, many of which were awarded at Cannes Lions, Ad Stars, AdFest and other commercial festivals. Unlike commercials – which must sell their products in minutes – “Birdland” has a very different timing. The movie’s pace is slow which allow us to connect to our protagonist and see life from his perspective. Shin Furukawa (as Koji) and Natsuko Fuji (as Saki) performances are heartwarming and for sure will awake in the viewer deep emotions. The scenes at the park are marvelous and show the deep connection between the characters. Sound is also an important aspect as it embraces the viewer and manages to immerse us into Koji‘s memories.
I want to thank the director for letting me see his wonderful film. Thanks for your time, until next time.