“Who Will Sing Folk Songs?”: The Film Musical in Nine Variations
New Restoration

A towering, shattering adolescence epic … With long scenes of kids listening to Lily Chou-Chou on their headphones (Takeshi Kobayashi provides the music), Lily Chou-Chou sounds hermetically sealed from adult access by its relentless focus on youth, but it will break your heart no matter what your age.”

Grady Hendrix, Film Comment

No one has captured the volatility of virtual friendship quite like filmmaker and novelist Iwai Shunji (Hana & Alice). With unflinching and sometimes brutal clarity, his breakthrough digital epic traces a line over more than one abyss: the teen tendency to switch allegiances or mask intentions, as well as the new world of personae that develop in the film among young members of an internet chat group devoted to pop artist Lily Chou-Chou. The visuals are cleaved in two, between an unbearable reality, filled with school bullying, misogynist threats, and depressive isolation, and the pure imageless escape of keyboard transmissions. Taken as a music film, there are no traditional numbers—and therefore little access to relief—but vocalist Salyu fills the soundtrack as Lily,” whose audio presence sutures the sharp edges of the movie’s Godardian jump cuts. Iwai, who also edits, intuitively understands and gives expressive weight to the way digital technology has altered communal experience.

In Japanese and Okinawan with English subtitles

Advisory: All About Lily Chou-Chou includes a scene of sexual violence.

Flashbacks are scant signified, and jump cuts leave out massive amounts of motivating incident, but Lily Chou-Chou is a precision-made mystery tour, and possibly the loveliest film ever shot on high-def video.”

Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

All About Lily Chou-Chou is one of those films that has never let go of me while I’m writing my own stories. There are reasons certain films resonate with your own struggles, in trying to understand your own relationships and space and time and meaning and all of those things people struggle with.”

kogonada, director (Columbus, After Yang)

Upcoming in this Series

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