Japanese film that imagines killing seniors as solution to aging population problem breaks Cannes
A Japanese film has reportedly devastated audiences at the Cannes Film Festival with its poetic vision of a dystopian solution to Japan's aging population.
Written and directed by Chie Hayakawa, Plan 75 unfolds in an alternate Japan where citizens aged 75 and over have the option—and are strongly encouraged—to be put to sleep for free.
Although labeled as controversial, the policy is widely accepted in a society that prides itself on its "victim history". As part of the agreement, applicants will receive a sum of US$1,000 to use freely.
"At first glance, the government's Plan 75 is full of benevolence, kindness and pragmatism," Hayakawa told AFP. "But the truth is, it's both very cruel and shameful."
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The film follows three main characters who live in extraordinary circumstances: Michi (Chieko Baisho), a 78-year-old hotel maid who finds happiness in small things - until she gets fired; Hiromu (Hayato Isomura), a young agent of Plan 75 who comes to his senses when he contacts his older uncle; and Maria (Stefanie Arianna Akashi), a Filipina who starts out as a geriatric nurse until her daughter's failing health forces her to join Plan 75 for better pay.
Hayakawa acknowledged that Japan's aging population is not a new problem. However, she was inspired to work on the film after the 2016 Sagamihara stabbings, in which a 26-year-old man stabbed at a care facility for the disabled, killing 19 and injuring 26 others.
"I was angry and thought if Japan accelerated this path of intolerance, what would it look like?" Hayakawa told The Hollywood Reporter.
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In developing the film, Hayakawa interviewed 15 elderly Japanese women, all of whom said they would apply for Plan 75 if it were real. Her reason: "You don't want to be a burden."
For all its grotesque premise, Plan 75 deviates from expectations of a "futuristic sci-fi" aesthetic. Instead, it adopts a more realistic style of cinematography, effectively instilling a sense of urgency as the story unfolds as "an extension of our current real world," Hayakawa said.
Currently, about 30 percent of the Japanese population is over 65 years old, according to AFP. This proportion is expected to accelerate in the coming years.
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"What worries me a lot is that we're in a social reality that would be very much in favor of such a radical solution," Hayakawa told the outlet. "Its scary."
Featured image via The Upcoming
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