2023 Christmas Special – Tokyo Godfathers

Screening as part of the Mockingbird’s Alternative Christmas Film Festival

© 2003 Satoshi Kon / Tokyo Godfathers Committee

What is Tokyo Godfathers about?

From legendary director Satoshi Kon (Millennium Actress, Paprika), an unconvential Christmas story. One Christmas Eve, three homeless people—a middle-aged alcoholic named Gin with a gambling addiction, a trans woman named Hana hoping for her own christmas miracle, and a dependent teenage runaway named Miyuki with anger aissues—discover an abandoned newborn on Christmas Eve.

On the baby is a note asking the finder to take good care of her and a key, leading to a bag with clues to the parents’ identity. The trio sets out to find the parents. Hana names the baby Kiyoko, based on the Japanese translation of “Silent Night”. On the way they meet multiple characters of Tokyo life and their pasts. A wondorous blend of comedy, pathos and melodrama crossed with hard-boiled action, and enormous coincidence.

© 2003 Satoshi Kon / Tokyo Godfathers Committee

Why we chose Tokyo Godfathers

Legendary director Satoshi Kon hardly needs an introduction. With Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress and Paprika, he made three of the greatest animes of all time, frequently on everyone’s top movie lists.

Out of the 5 projects completed by Kon, Tokyo Godfathers is perhaps one of the uniquest. It’s heavily inspired by the John Ford, the 1948 western, 3 Godfathers (itself, the fifth feature adaptation of Peter B. Kyne’s 1913 novel The Three Godfathers). It’s also the only work from Kon that its entirely ‘down to earth’ in its setting, not blurring reality and corrupted memories.

In an interview, Kon admitted that the implication of a social & political statement was something he had in mind especially because homelessness is ignored as a societal issue iin Japan. Kon said: “The important thing wasn’t to just present the homeless problem in the script, but to focus on the mindset surrounding things we ‘discard’. These are people who have been ‘discarded’ from society; the homeless, the runaway girl. In Japanese society, civil rights that the people have are few in number. I wanted to examine how someone separated from mainstream society would once again rejuvenate society.”

In our eyes it’s essential viewing, taking a previously trodden christmas narrative and turning it into something quite special. It it translates what Christmas is supposed to be about through humour, pain, love, hate, shock and awe. Taking those abandoned by society and reforming them into a family, without diminishing the gravity of their current predicaments.

Kon passed away on August 24, 2010 at the age of 46 but his legacy and impact has reached far and wide, with directors such as Darren Aronofsky (“Without his work, Neo might never have taken the red pill, and the post-Matrix rash of Hollywood films dealing with subjective reality – Fight Club, Inception, Requiem for a Dream – might never have tumbled down the rabbit-hole and on to our screens. So why aren’t we seeing more tributes to his art?”) and Guillermo del Toro (“PERFECT BLUE by Satoshi Kon. A Giallo for all. And, dare I say it? Perhaps one of the most intricate ones ever made. In any medium.”) expressing their love for his works.

© 2003 Satoshi Kon / Tokyo Godfathers Committee

Where can I see Tokyo Godfathers?

Tokyo Godfathers | 88 mins | 12, is screening at the Mockingbird Screen 1, Sunday 17th December at 15:30

© 2003 Satoshi Kon / Tokyo Godfathers Committee

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