Gokogu no Neko

The Cats of Gokogu Shrine
Steep steps lead up to the Gokogu Shinto shrine in Ushimado. The local children play on them and the older residents attend to their upkeep, even planting mint on either side. Kazuhiro Soda presents these steps as a site of transition that also forms a key element of this tiny set-up. For this elevated shrine isn’t just somewhere to visit for spiritual purposes – Ushimado’s feline community has also set up home here, an occasionally dynamic collective consisting of cats abandoned by their owners and their subsequent offspring. They need to be cared for, even as their population must be kept in check. Kazuhiro Soda’s documentaries – many of them which have already screened at the Forum – always follow his own set of rules and show the seemingly innocuous, yet still weighty requirements of co-existence. Slowly, yet persistently, The Cats of Gokogu Shrine expands his gaze; the focus on details, everyday tendernesses and discipline gives this chronicle of a year a dimension that is at once down-to-earth and universal. And the presence of Kazuhiro Soda himself, who has lived in Ushimado for several years, can also be experienced first-hand in a restrained, honest manner.
by Kazuhiro Soda Japan 2024 Japanese 119’ World premiere | Documentary form


Director Kazuhiro Soda
Cinematography Kazuhiro Soda
Editing Kazuhiro Soda
Sound Design Kazuhiro Soda
Sound Kazuhiro Soda
Producers Kazuhiro Soda, Kiyoko Kashiwagi

Kazuhiro Soda

Born in Ashikaga, Japan in 1970. He studied religion at the University of Tokyo and filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He practices an observational method of documentary filmmaking based on his own “Ten Commandments”. He has made eleven feature-length documentaries with this method, which have screened and received prizes at festivals worldwide. He is also the author of nine books published in Japanese, one of which, “Why I Make Documentaries”, has been translated into English, Korean and Chinese.

Filmography (selection)

1995 A Night in New York; 10 min. · A Flower and a Woman; 5 min. 1996 Freezing Sunlight; 85 min. 1997 The Flicker; 17 min. 2001 Intanetto de Kazoku ga Umareru (Internet Adoption); 59 min. 2005 Mafuyu no 111 (111 First in Winter); 20 min. · Soshite Musuko ha Korosareta (My Son Was Killed); 20 min. 2007 Senkyo (Campaign); 120 min., Forum 2007 2008 Seishin (Mental); 135 min., Forum 2009 2010 Peace; 75 min. 2012 Engeki 1 (Theatre 1); 172 min. · Engeki 2 (Theatre 2); 170 min. 2013 Senkyo 2 (Campaign 2); 149 min. 2015 Kaki Kouba (Oyster Factory); 145 min. 2018 The Big House; 119 min. · Minatomachi (Inland Sea); 122 min., Forum 2019 2024 Gokogu no Neko (The Cats of Gokogu Shrine)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024