Poverty creates enormous societal boundaries but how does it impact the bonds that unite a family?

In what many critics consider his most powerful film to date, acclaimed Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu tells the story of a family surviving in poverty in Japan.

"Shoplifters" is being brought to Cochrane by the Chinook Film Group for one show only on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Cochrane Movie House. Advance tickets are now available at the Gentry Espresso and Wine Bar, 312 5th Ave. A limited number will also be available at the door.

The film centres upon a family that relies upon shoplifting to cope with their poverty.

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu, the father, and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girls, Osamu's wife agrees to take care of the girl after learning of the hardships she faces.

Although poverty-stricken, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.

When exploring the idea for the film, Hirokazu, who also wrote the screenplay, says the first thing that came to mind was the tagline "Only the crimes tied us together." He used an adverse setting to explore the importance of the family.

"This film is packed with various elements I have been thinking about and exploring these past 10 years. It is a story of what family means, a story about a man trying to be a father, and furthermore, a coming-of-age story of a boy," says Hirokazu.

Murray Mitchell, of the Chinook Film Group, who previewed the film. says the cultural difference makes it a little more challenging to fully appreciate the commentary and that it exposes a side of Japanese life we hear little about in North America. He may even prepare some notes and a list of links for people who want to know more.

But the film is well worth a viewing for its discussion and how the characters rationalize their behaviour for the good of the family unit.

"It's done in a very interesting way. The narrative takes place and the movie takes place and there are certain things that seem a bit odd and  then, through an interesting process, a lot of it is explained to you."

Shoplifters was the recipient of the 2018 Palm d'Or at Cannes and has been nominated for multiple other awards including Best Foreign Film for both the Golden Globes and the upcoming Academy Awards.

Hirokazu has directed more than a dozen feature films. Prior to Shoplifters, he won the jury prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival for "Like Father, Like Son."

The film is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

The Chinook Film Group has been bringing alternative and independent films to Cochrane for 15 years.

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