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A remarkable Japanese Buddhist priest uses a range of methods to help desperate people discover the will to live. But when a health crisis puts him at serious risk, can he live by the same advice he gives out?
Lana Wilson follows up her award-winning documentary After Tiller with this lyrical, intimate character study of the complex figure Ittetsu Nemoto, an aimless and rebellious former punk rocker-turned-Buddhist priest. Most famously, he is renowned in Japan for saving the lives of countless suicidal men and women through his wise and compassionate counsel. But Nemoto is now approaching middle-age with a wife and young boy of his own, when he learns his life is at risk from heart disease, compounded by the heavy emotional workload of supporting those who no longer want to live. When saving others takes such a toll, can he find the resiliency to save himself? The Departure is an intimate portrait of one quietly extraordinary man who has helped so many learn to live, and now must find the strength to learn from his own advice.
Brandon Harris, Filmmaker Magazine
Immensely moving. Lyrical and deeply meditative… digs deep into major questions without being afraid of the answers.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire
One of the most moving films at this year’s festival…gorgeous and contemplative. The Departure is a powerful work of documentary, cinema, advocacy, and art.
Andrew Parker, Toronto Film Scene
A cinematic spiritual quest. A trip to the mountain top that will leave you moved, teary eyed, and utterly vibrating with the sense of feeling alive. A small quiet film that is thunderous in its effect.
Steve Kopian, Unseen Films
A beautiful, wise, and deeply empathetic immersion into one fascinating character’s unique approach to suicide prevention. A quietly impressive work whose images, characters, and ruminations linger on long after the lights come up.
Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine