The River Breathes

Mizuha, amidst her depression of losing her newborn son, returns to her hometown for the first time in ten years. She reunites with her childhood friends Keisuke and Ryota, and they take a walk down a river that still shows signs of a flood that devastated the area during a huge storm. They watch the river and talk about what they saw “at the time.” And there at the river, they witness a mysterious phenomenon.

This film was selected for FAR EAST IN PROGRESS 2022 at the 24th Udine Far East Film Festival.

  • Shoji Toyama
  • Shoji Toyama
  • Tomoya Takeda
  • Shinichi Koyama
  • Chika Uchida
    Key Cast
  • Reo Tamaoki
    Key Cast
  • Koji Yamazaki
    Key Cast
  • Takeo Nakahara
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
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  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
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  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • The 12th Balneário Camboriú International Film Festival
    Balneário Camboriú
    November 5, 2022
    World Premiere
    Award for Best Director,Award for Bestperformance
  • The 28th Kolkata International Film Festival
    December 15, 2022
    India Premiere
    Asian Select (NETPAC Award)
  • The 17th Santa Monica Film Festival
    Santa Monica, California
    United States
    January 22, 2023
    North American premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Shoji Toyama

Born in 1984 in Yashiro-city, Kumamoto and currently living in Tokyo, Toyama graduated from the Faculty of Intercultural Communication at Hosei University, and also studied at Boston University. He received his MA in Global Information and Telecommunication Studies from Waseda University in Tokyo. He started making documentary films and theater works while he was a student. He directed his first feature film “Our Night is Not Long” set in Amakusa, Kumamoto. The film was shown and well received in the Japanese Eye Competition division at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2012, one of the biggest film festivals in Asia. His second feature film “Magic Utopia” (co- directed by Shuichi Tan) received the Outstanding Directorial Achievement award in the Main Competition at the Anchorage International Film Festival 2015 and the Special Jury Remi Award in the Main Competition at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival 2016. His short film “Winter`s Butterfly”, won The Best Asian Film Award at the Teheran International Short Film Festival 2016, which is known as the gateway of young filmmakers, making him highly acclaimed internationally. Toyama has been energetically making films as well as planning and producing exhibitions and art projects, and works as the director of Saitama Triennale 2020.

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Director Statement

I have consistently portrayed loss and recovery. This film is about a river in Japan, Kuma River, and a woman who lost her child.

For me this film is special. One of the reasons is that this river is in my hometown, and the area where this river is located was hit by a torrential rainstorm and bears the scars. We have filmed in the actual location scarred by the disaster and the protagonists travelled this river. There they encounter a mysterious light.

This film features “light”, “water”, “wind”, “stone” and “breath”. Rather than illustrating them simply, I have portrayed them as primitive beings that make up our world. It is in fact life itself.

In a world where irreplaceable lives are born and die everyday, how can one woman recover? There in lies a hint for each of us to think about how we should face and live with “life” in the future.

We are faced with a painful reality and we count what we have lost. And one day someone starts to count what is left. After watching the last scene of this film, please listen to the song played during the credit. It is my wish that you can feel the hope in this film.