Departures (image 1)

Departures' belief in love and forgiveness is lyrical, and hauntingly moving.

Edmund Lee, Time Out Hong Kong

Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

Departures 2008


Directed by Yojiro Takita

Academy Award 2009: Best Foreign Film. In this beautifully performed character study an unemployed cellist finds fulfilment and a depth of human connection in the most unlikely profession.

Japan In Japanese with English subtitles
131 minutes 35mm



Mase Yasuhiro
Nakazawa Toshiaki
Watai Toshihisa
Nobukuni Ichiro


Koyama Kundo


Hamada Takeshi


Kawashima Akimasa

Production designer

Ogawa Fumio


Joe Hisaishi


Motoki Masahiro (Daigo Kobayashi)
Yamazaki Tsutomu (Sasaki)
Hirosue Ryoko (Mika Kobayashi)
Yoshiyuki Kazuko
Sasano Takashi
Yo Kimiko


Montreal World 2008; Tribeca 2009


Academy Award, Best Foreign Language Film 2009


Departures, winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Film, is a beautifully performed character study of a man who finds fulfilment and a depth of human connection in the most unlikely profession. Daigo, a cellist, is laid off from his orchestra and moves with his wife back to his small hometown where the living is cheaper. Thinking he’s applying for a job at a travel agency he finds he’s being interviewed for work with departures of a more permanent nature – as an undertaker’s assistant. Little by little he warms to his new profession, endowing the elaborate funeral ceremonies with grace and humanity. Director Takita, whose origins are in much more commercially robust territory, brings good humour to the social awkwardness his protagonist encounters and to his struggle to win round his mortified wife. Motoki Masahiro’s delicately shaded entrancement in the lead role enacts the rituals of farewell with an eloquence that crosses cultures. — BG