A new year. A new year filled with great must-see, must-own DVDs. We’ll start with The Departure from FilmRise, the second documentary by award-winning director Lana Wilson. The film is a poetic and deeply moving film that contemplates death as a way of better understanding how we should live. Having its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (2017) and recently nominated for a 2018 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary, The Departure follows a former punk-turned Buddhist-priest in Japan who has made a career out of counseling suicidal people. The film, in Japanese with English subtitles, will be available on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray January 9, 2018.
A 44-year old Tokyo native, Ittestsu Nemoto has dedicated his life to helping suicidal people find reasons to live. But this work has come increasingly at the cost of his own family and health, as he refuses to draw lines between those he counsels and himself. The Departure captures Nemoto at a crossroads, when his growing self-destructive tendencies lead him to confront the same question his patients ask him: What makes life worth living? As director Wilson follows Nemoto, with complete access to his daily life, the film unfolds as Nemoto reaches a pivotal moment–he must confront what’s perhaps most frightening of all–the meaning and value of his own life, and how he should be living it.
Wilson’s attraction to Nemoto’s story came from a 2013 article she read in New Yorker magazine, about a Rinzai Zen priest renowned for his work in suicide prevention. Wilson wondered how he convinced desperate people to catch hold and move forward with their lives. She realized she wanted to be in the room for these life-and-death conversations. What transpired was a carefully filmed documentary discreetly presenting the importance of human connection.