A mysterious visitor arrives at the door of an ame (candy) seller nightly at midnight. Her behaviour beckons him to follow her one night revealing the eerie truth behind the visits. Based on a folk tale by Lafcadio Hearn, Kai Kiyooka uses stop-motion animation with elaborate and endearing puppets to bring this haunting legend to life.
“It boggled my mind to see the work put into this fantastic film: the attention to detail, the beauty of it, the perfect music and sound. It gave me the chills because it is so true–a treasure!”
– Renee Rodin, Third Avenue Editions
In making this film I wanted to explore a part of my childhood and my heritage. When I was a child I would build my own fantasy worlds. I would use anything to do this cardboard, carpet, modeling clay, etc. It was however modeling clay that I loved the most because it allowed me to make my own characters, which would take on a life of their own. When I was twelve I attended the Gulf Island Film School where my cohort and me would stay up long into the night making our characters and worlds. I can remember spending hours and hours fabricating a single character. I believe that in making this film I was reaching back into my childhood and discovering passions that still exist within me.
I am part Japanese and have always been fascinated with this foreign culture. It is something that exists within me, defines my identity, but remains hidden. As I have never been to Japan it remains a sort of fantasy for me, in the sense that my understanding exists only from what I have read, watched, seen, and heard. My great grandmother lived to be 100 years old so I am fortunate to have some memories with her, her father was a respected samurai. It is this family history that draws my interest to Japan’s feudal past and the world that it represented. For my film I wanted to create a feudal Japanese world, but was unsure of what story to tell within this world. I started reading Japanese folk legends and was delighted to come across the writings of Lafcadio Hearn. His writings are sensitive, beautiful, and have a wonderful archaic quality to them. As a folk legend there are many versions of the story that I ended up telling, however I wanted to use Hearn’s for its simplicity and archaic beauty. Furthermore because Hearn was not Japanese I felt an affinity with his quest to understand the culture, people, arts, and religions of Japan.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy the film,