Director: Christopher Makoto Yogi
100 mins, USA, 2021
Part ghost story, part family portrait, I Was a Simple Man is set in the pastoral countryside of the north shore of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and stars Steve Iwamoto (Masao) and Constance Wu (Grace). Revealed in four chapters, it tells the story of widower Masao, an elderly Japanese-American man approaching the end of his life, who has lived a solitary existence after his artist Chinese-American wife Grace died young, and who is visited by the ghosts of his past, and his living estranged grown children and grandson.
Honolulu-born director Christopher Makoto Yogi sets his unique, deeply haunting meditation in his home of the Hawaiian islands, a place full of natural and spiritual beauty, inhabited by a ‘ghostly’ presence. Landscape and rhythm are key actors throughout the film (the skateboard sequence is exceptional!), where visual and sound intertwine with the countryside in this exquisitely poetic film. Unfolding like a life lived, moving back and forward in time, it is filled with family history, and memory and dreams of a man and a place with a complicated history.
Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2021
Notes by Marie-Pierre Richard