Sakurai Shoji was falsely accused of murder at the age of 20 and spent 29 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2011 following a retrial, and victory in a damages suit in 2021. In prison, He wrote a lot of poems. Even the day he was arrested on pretenses is an ‘anniversary.’ He overcame adversity with a positive mindset.
The film starts with an elderly man wandering around the high walls of Chiba Prison. Sakurai Shoji, who was arrested as a robbery and murder suspect in 1967 and imprisoned for 29 years before being released in 2016, is visiting the prison where he spent his youth to film a documentary. Now 76 years old, he says, “I’m rather happy that I was in prison.” His parents died during his unjust imprisonment, and he lost a lot of other things, but he wrote more than 200 poems in prison and tried to find happiness by writing songs. After his release, he traveled the country giving lectures, reciting his own poetry and performing his compositions, and eventually won a retrial which cleared him of all charges in 2011. As director KIM Sungwoong, a Korean-Japanese, said in an interview, “I tried to show the way of life Mr. Sakurai rather than the wrongful verdict and imprisonment.” The film, which took 12 years in the making, is about one man’s struggle to come to terms with, accept, and sometimes fight against his unfortunate life. (CHUN Jinsu)
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