Logan Crow here, Founder and Executive Director of The Frida Cinema, to talk about Makoto Nagahisa’s We Are Little Zombies — my favorite film of 2020.
Originally released in Japan in 2019, Nagahisa’s sensational and utterly unique coming-of-age masterpiece was just one of so many wonderful films denied a big-screen U.S. release by COVID-19. When distributor Oscilloscope Films sent us a screener to consider it for our Streaming Series, I was as mesmerized by the film as I was hugely disappointed to not be able to champion its theatrical release, and get everyone I knew to go see it. We presented it as part of our Streaming Cinema program from July 17th – 30th, and during that time I watched it three times, made a lot of noise about it, and vowed to present it at The Frida as soon as I could. It immediately topped my list of the 2020 releases I’d seen up to that point, and despite so many fantastic films to come in the second half of the year, this strange — and strangely perfect — little gem still sits at the top of my list. Is it for all tastes? Of course not — but what is? Without giving anything away, I can say two things about this movie: 1) For our horror-averse audiences, no, this is not a zombie film; and 2) I guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like it.
We Are Little Zombies tells the late of four newly-orphaned children — Hikari, Ikuko, Ishi, and Takemura — who randomly meet at the cremation ceremonies of their respective sets of parents. The foursome form a bond over the fact that, as they put it, they are like zombies; devoid of all emotion, and surprised to find themselves unable to cry. With no family, no future, no dreams, and no way to move forward, the youngsters decide that the first level of this new existence involves salvaging a gaming console, an old electric bass, and a charred wok from their former homes—just enough to start a band, and conquer the world. Tragedy, comedy, music, social criticism, and teenage angst collide in this eccentric and kaleidoscopic cinematic tsunami.
The Frida Cinema is proud to present We Are Little Zombies as part of our Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month series of films recognizing the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. A portion of ticket proceeds from screenings of We Are Little Zombies will be donated to Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative launched by the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University in response to the alarming escalation of acts of xenophobia and bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Learn more at stopaapihate.org.
Seriously — don’t miss this movie!
“Explosively ingenious and energetic…” — Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Exuberance and visual inventiveness seem to come to Nagahisa as naturally as breathing.” — Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“A rainbow-colored scream into the abyss, Nagahisa’s story of a quartet of orphaned tweens who start a chiptune rock band is as rigorous in its exploration of grief as it is stylistically exuberant…” — Emily Yoshida, Vulture