Erik Shirai, whom may be known by audiences for his award-winning documentary The Birth of Sake (2015), teams up with Masako Tsumura, the producer of The Birth Of Sake (2015), to deliver an intimate portrait of the kind of subjective suffering the devastating earthquake in Northern Japan caused.
Nowhere to go but Everywhere is an experimental documentary that poetically stages how Yasuo Takamatsu deals with the radical absence of his wife due to the devastating tsunami in 2011.
The central theme of this short documentary is the difficulty of finding closure – to walk the path of mourning – when one’s loved one is radically swept away by the sea. This difficulty is caused by a lack of bodily materiality (e.g. body, bones, ashes, …) as well as by the lack of a consciousness that one’s beloved would decease soon. The radical Real emptiness that one is confronted with problematizes the process of symbolically accepting one’s loss.
It is this material lack and the confrontation with the final signifier of his deceased wife – the last message on her phone: “I want to come home”- that gave rise to Takamatsu’s desire to find a way to bring her back home. The search for her materiality, i.e. her bones in the sea, and fulfil his wife’s final request is an fundamental step in finding some closure.
Yet, this search is not without conflicting feelings. While he knows that finding her bones will allow him to inscribe her absence – e.g. by having a funeral – in the symbolic Other in a satisfying way, finding her materiality will also confront him with the radical reality of her death and give rise to emotions he could not yet fully experience.
What makes this short documentary so engaging is its visual pleasure and its intimate atmosphere. The visual pleasure is ensured by utilizing film-noise and a naturalistic colour-design, while the intimacy of the narrative is heightened by its powerful and poetic imagery, the emotionally sensitive music, and its razor-sharp sound-design.
It is, in fact, by creating such intimate atmosphere through visuals and sound that the narrating speech attains the power to truly touch the spectator. While the personal narrative, addressed to the audience, has a certain intimacy as such, it is the film’s auditive and visual atmosphere that empowers the very intimacy of his signifiers by elegantly echoing what remains unsaid or lingers in the tonality and rhythm of the man’s speech.
Nowhere to go but Everywhere is an incredible short by Erik Shirai and Masako Tsumura that explores the subjective impact of the lack of materiality (i.e. bones) on the process of mourning in a very intimate way. By concatenation poetic and atmospheric imagery, Shirai and Tsumura give Takamatsu’s signifiers a chance to deeply reverberate within the spectator.