A Tiny Place That is Hard to Touch

In a faceless apartment in Tatekawa, Tokyo, an American woman hires a Japanese woman to translate interviews about Japan’s declining birthrate. The American woman is presumptuous in her knowledge of Japan; the Japanese woman suffers from a self-professed excess of critical distance. They grate, fight, and crash together in love or lust, at which point their story gets hijacked into science fiction territory, as the translator interrupts their work sessions with stories from a world infected with the knowledge of its own demise. This neighborhood has already known devastation, having been wiped out the night of 9 March 1945 by American bombs.
The third protagonist is the Tatekawa itself, the canal covered by an elevated highway that runs past the translator’s apartment, which gives the neighborhood its name. Reflecting back the concrete world in distorted patterns of blue, green, or glittering black, the Tatekawa transports a shifting procession of birds, shoes, condoms, crabs, plastic bags, flowers, big fish, little fish, death, life.
by Shelly Silver USA / Japan 2019 Japanese, English 38’ Colour


Written and Directed by Shelly Silver
Cinematography Shelly Silver
Editing Shelly Silver
Sound Mixing Mike Degen
Narrator Saori Tsukada
Translation Riyo Niimoto
Post-Production Supervisor Riaki Enyama
Producer Shelly Silver

Shelly Silver

Shelly Silver, born in New York, USA in 1957, studied History and Conceptual Art at Cornell University. Starting as a photographer, she moved to bookmaking and then settled on the moving image. After graduating, she worked extensively in the industry as a film and video editor. Her experience in commercial film and television, as well as her early entanglement with conceptual art and structuralism, led her to speak about the world through a formal bending of film and television grammar.

Filmography (selection)

1984 Are We All Here?; 50 min. 1987 Meet the People; 17 min. 1989 Things I Forget to Tell Myself; 2 min. · getting in; 3 min. 1990 We; 4 min. 1991 The Houses That Are Left; 51 min. 1994 Former East/Former West; 62 min. · April 2nd; 10 min. 1996 37 Stories About Leaving Home; 52 min. 1999 small lies, Big Truth; 19 min. 2001 I.; 3 min. 2003 suicide; 7 min. 2004 What I'm Looking For; 15 min. 2008 in complete world; 53 min. 2009 5 lessons & 9 questions about Chinatown; 10 min. 2013 TOUCH; 68 min. · frog spider hand horse house; 47 min., Forum Expanded 2013 2015 The Lamps; 4 min. 2017 A Strange New Beauty; 52 min. 2018 This Film; 7 min. · TURN; 4 min. 2019 A Tiny Place That is Hard to Touch

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019