Japanese broadcaster NHK commissioned this project consisting of four Japanese directors adapting from the horror classic Kaidan, but this screening only consists of Kore-eda Hirokazu's segment The Days After. Kore-eda of course is no stranger to local audiences, where his Air Doll sold out during last year's edition of the festival.
A mid length film, The Days After sections itself into seven parts, each dealing with a day in the life of, with the tale set on what would be the mundane of life in a household, but achingly romanticized and beautifully shot. Being a period piece also helped since it provides for opportunities to dress up the set and cast for a time already long gone, becoming a serious piece of eye candy for audiences to gaze and gawk at, with meticulous attention to detail that would likely distract you from the story proper.
Opening with a scene at a cemetary then quickly estbalishing the notion of a couple's early loss of their young child, there can be various interpretations to the tale and the nature of the mysterious child who turned up at the couple's doorsteps. Personally I felt this was in a way a huge what-if moment, that Fate bestowed upon the couple to live a week with who could possibly be the child that they probably could have had should Fate not rob him away from his parents. Like a reward for good deeds unspoken and unseen, we follow the couple's experience in their new family make up, though baffling to the couple intiially, but when an opportunity presents itself, seize it and make the most out of it.
Which of course leaves plenty of questions unanswered and this allows for a wealth of post-screening discourse, but even if a resolution is hard to come by, the pleasing aesthetics alone would have more than made up for it, with a beautiful soundtrack and slow, flowing camerawork that tenderly paints a whimsical family tale that packs a powerful, emotional punch.