EDOnism is a sci-fi movie that just happens to have been produced by some acquaintances of acquaintances of mine, and shot in Tokyo, the city where I have lived for the past ten years. Although it was made on a low (very low) budget, and uses semi-professional and amateur actors working on a volunteer basis, there are several things that it gets right.
Unlike films such as Lost in Translation, which only barely manage to scrape one layer below the experience of common tourists in Tokyo, EDOnism was produced by people who have lived in the city for years, and avoids many of the clichés of white gloved-taxi drivers and Westerners stooping under low shower heads. Although it has a futurist Blade Runner feel at work, EDOnism as taps into Japanese history and mythology—the title refers to Edo, the ancient name of Tokyo, and the story refers to jishin-namazu (“earthquake catfish”) a legendary giant fish that flaps about under the earth’s surface creating seismic tremors. The story revolves around a European banker stationed in Japan for two years, during which time his life really hits the skids, as his wife leaves him and he loses his job. Everyone thinks he is an alcoholic, but he is really suffering intense migraines spark surreal hallucinations. The doctor who examines him realizes that he may be a subject in an age-old conspiracy.
Although the low budget is evident throughout, there are some interesting ideas included, and this is a good example of what could be called “community cinema” or even “outsider cinema”—a film made by expats in a foreign city, produced in their free time.