Screened as part of NZIFF 2023

River 2023

Ribā, nagarenaideyo

Directed by Junta Yamaguchi Incredibly Strange

The team behind festival hit Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (NZIFF 2021) return with an ingenious comedy in which the staff at a traditional hot springs hotel are trapped in a time loop that repeats every two minutes.

Jul 30

Academy Cinemas

Aug 03

Academy Cinemas

Aug 05

Hollywood Avondale

Japan In Japanese with English subtitles
86 minutes Colour / DCP

Director, Editor


Takahiro Otsuki


Makoto Ueda


Kazunari Kawagoe

Production Designer

Naoki Souma

Costume Designer

Atsuko Kiyokawa


Koji Takimoto


Riko Fujitani
Yuki Torigoe
Munenori Nagano
Takashi Sumita
Yoshifumi Sakai
Masahi Suwa
Gota Ishida
Haruki Nakagawa
Kazunari Tosa
Kohei Morooka
Masahiro Kuroki


This time-loop comedy heralds the sophomore effort of the talented filmmaker Yamaguchi and Kyoto-based theatre troupe “Europe Kikaku” whose Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (NZIFF 2021) was a surprise NZIFF hit after wowing genre fans around the globe. Yamaguchi and Kikaku's cinematic ethos strives for a fusion of inventive humour, a theatrical framework and original concepts deeply rooted in bona fide ingenuity.

Building on the premise of their previous collaboration, River centres on Mikoto, a waitress who works in a traditional hot springs hotel in Kyoto. Life suddenly trips into the twilight zone when Mikoto is called back to work by the owner while standing by the Kibune River situated behind the hotel. However, two minutes later, for some mysterious reason, she finds herself once again facing the river, as time seems to be repeating itself every two minutes, a situation that is also experienced by her fellow waitresses, chefs and diners. Following each reset, time winds backward, propelling them back to their original locations, albeit with their memories intact. Some yearn to escape the repetitive loop, while others wish to remain, yet all grapple with their own predicaments demanding resolution. As Mikoto observes the collective effort to unearth the cause, an unsettling sense of isolation steadily envelops her. — Ant Timpson