A Silent Voice

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 18:30
Friday, April 13, 2018 - 12:00
VIFF Vancity Theatre
1181 Seymour St.
$10 adult; $7 child, youth, senior; $5 each for groups of 10 or more
Naoko Yamada

In Japanese with English subtitles 

Shoko Nishimiya is a new transfer student, and the first deaf person Shoya Ishida has ever met. He immediately labels Shoko as a burden because of her disability. After being physically harmed by Shoya’s taunts, Shoko is moved to another school. Five years later, now a senior in high school, Shoya has lost whatever ‘popularity’ he may have gained from being a bully in elementary. As the only child to a single mother, Shoya now lives in severe shame of his past, caused by years of ostracization by his peers. Finding very little will to live, Shoya resolves to reconcile his missteps by attempting to reconnect with Shoko, believing he might one day be worthy of redemption in her eyes.

Winner of the top prize at the Japan Movie Critics Awards, and premiering in competition at the Annecy Film Festival in France, A Silent Voice is a moving story of friendship, coming of age, and the transcendence of personal struggle. Koe no katachi (the Japanese title) is based on the acclaimed manga of the same name by Yoshitoki Oima. The literal meaning is “the shape of voice,” which reflects the film’s central theme of how communication and bonding can take many forms. Revealing the psychological impact of bullying — which scars the bully as much as the victim — Naoko Yamada (one of the few female anime directors in Japan) gifts us her third feature. This overwhelmingly beautiful look at forgiveness, acknowledgment of mistakes, and the complexity of growing up is narrated from the perspective of the bully. Yamada’s approach to anime has been called ‘experimental,’ and in many ways it is. Her work is that rare form of hand-drawn cinema which invites audiences into a personal, intricate and intensely realistic portrait of the human condition, daring us to empathize with the inexcusable behavior of a struggling teenager.

Recommended for ages 12+

Themes: guilt, anti-bullying, suicide, friendship, making amends, self-reflection, peer-pressure, coming of age, socioeconomic status and class distinction, regret

Content Advisory: A hearing aid is ripped out of place, causing a girl’s ears to bleed; students get into a physical altercation; two characters contemplate suicide.

Classification: PG - violence; theme of bullying

Note: This film screens as part of the  program for grades 8-12. 


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Naoko Yamada started her career in 2004 at Kyoto Animation studio and became a director in 2009 with her first film K-On!, which she adapted from a manga comic strip of he same name, and her film later received a TV adaptation. Her second big project was Tamako Market series in 2013. Her work has been awarded on several occasions, and her approach to animation has generated a cult following -- a rare feat considering the sheer amount of anime being produced. A Silent Voice, is her third feature animated film, and though it was made with a fraction of the budget of many of the major anime studios, it premiered at the Annecy Film Festival in France in 2017, and was nominated for some of the highest film awards in Japan. Yamada is one of the few women directing feature animation projects not only in Japan, but also in the entire world. She is part of this new generation of Japanese directors who are willing to take exceptional artistic risks and tell daring stories.



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