Cinema Impact was the name of a workshop launched by Masashi Yamamoto in 2012. It produced fifteen short films, including one directed by Yamamoto himself about a Zainichi (a Korean living in Japan) who is exploited by a shady sect and made into their figurehead. The success of other Cinema Impact films encouraged the director to expand this short prologue into a feature-length film.
Mizu no koe o kiku is set in Okubo, Tokyo’s Koreatown, where Minjon receives outcasts of all kinds and listens to their stories of woe, responding to them with flowery Korean platitudes they are unable to understand. Her act is so successful that a group of canny businesspeople make use of her standing to found the God’s Water sect. Enter Minjon’s father, who is being pursued by brutal debt collectors and seeks help from his estranged daughter.
Yamamoto doesn’t just manage to fuse satire, yakuza trash and a moral message with his trademark sympathy for the underdogs of Japanese society, he also takes his protagonist seriously, ultimately allowing her to rebel against the very system she created, turn toward the shamanism of her ancestors and embrace her Korean roots.