Home Entertainment Hamaguchi Ryusuki’s ‘Gift’ to Unspool in Hong Kong as One-Off Live Performance

Hamaguchi Ryusuki’s ‘Gift’ to Unspool in Hong Kong as One-Off Live Performance

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Superstar Japanese auteur Hamaguchi Ryusuke will unveil “Gift,” a companion piece to his recent “Evil Does Not Exist” as a one-off live performance at next month’s Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Following the success of his breakout “Drive My Car,” which won the Oscar for best international feature film, Hamaguchi initially made “Gift” as a silent film project to accompany the live performance of Ishibashi Eiko, the music composer of both “Drive” and later “Evil.”

From the same project, Hamaguchi also derived “Evil Does Not Exist,” which then went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival. With a similar narrative, both are eco-political thrillers that revolve around a man and his daughter whose peaceful rural lives are about to be disrupted by the construction of a glamping site. 

A piece of highly-controlled filmmaking, “Evil” became a major talking point with its baffling and enigmatic ending. Variety‘s reviewer Jessica Kiang called it “a tone poem with an atonal end” and described “Evil” as “a portrait of a village community under threat [that] is a lovely, gentle animal, right until its divisive, unexpected twist in the tail.”
 
“As the composed and wordless counterpart to ‘Evil Does Not Exist,’ ‘Gift’ offers an alternative perspective by utilizing the same footage and scenario, [but] creating a distinctly different experience. Ishibashi’s mesmerizing live score intensifies viewers’ emotional connection and contemplation of the clash between man and nature, as well as good and evil,” said the HKIFF organizers in their program notes.

A single performance of “Gift” with Ishibashi’s live music accompaniment, will take place at Hong Kong City Hall on March 30.

The festival, which has yet to announce its complete program, will run March 28 to April 8.