Gatekeeper

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Gatekeeper is a documentary film following Yukio Shige, a retired police detective, who patrols Tojinbo Cliffs, a notorious destination for suicides in Japan. Shige talks individuals away from the treacherous cliff-sides and brings them back to his unassuming café, where he and his team of volunteers work tirelessly to help suicide attempters recuperate and find their way in a society that stigmatizes mental illness and depression. Shige has spent the last 10 years on a selfless mission to stop potential jumpers from leaping to their deaths.

Still, he faces deep odds: Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world; almost double that of Canada. An average of 70 people kill themselves every day. The national suicide in 2014 totaled nearly 25,000 people.

These high numbers can be attributed in part to the country’s long history of romanticizing suicide. The historical practice of the Samurais seppuku, a ritual suicide by disembowelment, was celebrated as an honorable gesture of sacrifice and loyalty. This perception, that suicide is honorable, purifying and loyal, persists in contemporary Japanese society.

Yukio Shige sees it differently. He recognizes that the cultural mythology attributed to suicide glazes over core universal contributors: economic strife, debt, unemployment, sexual abuse, and mental illness. Shine was driven by his frustration with government inaction to found his own non-profit organization. Similar to other governments around the world, especially in Asia, there continues to be minimal support given to suicide prevention and mental health awareness in Japan.

An intimate, observational film, Gatekeeper explores one person’s passion to change society’s misconceptions of suicide. Driven by a deep guilt and an obsession to save lives, Yukio Shige’s story also takes us into a layered exploration of modern Japanese society.

Director Yung Chang
Location Japan
Duration 28 min.
Genre Social Issues / Society
Air Date (JST) Monday, October 17, 2016
Monday, February 13, 2017 *rerun

About Director

Yung Chang

Yung Chang

Biography

YUNG CHANG is the award-winning director of Up the Yangtze 《沿江而上》(2007), China Heavyweight《千錘百鍊》(2012), and The Fruit Hunters (2012). He is currently completing a screenplay for his first dramatic feature, Eggplant,《茄子》. In 2015, Chang was selected to participate in the prestigious Sundance Labs for Eggplant,《茄子》. Chang’s films have screened at international film festivals including Sundance, Berlin,Toronto, and IDFA and have played theatrically in cinemas around the world. Up the Yangtze was one of the top-grossing documentary releases in 2008. In 2013, China Heavyweight became the most widely screened social-issue documentary in Chinese history with an official release in 200 Mainland Chinese cinemas.
His films have been critically acclaimed, receiving awards in Paris, Milan, Vancouver, San Francisco, the Canadian Genie, Taiwan Golden Horse, Cinema Eye Honors, among others and have been nominated at Sundance, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Emmy’s.
Chang's films have been shown on international broadcasters including PBS, National Geographic, ARTE, ZDF, Channel 4, HBO, TMN, NHK, CBC, TV2, SBS and EBS.
Chang is the recipient of the Don Haig Award, the Yolande and Pierre Perrault Award, and the Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. He is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada. In 2013, he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Academy Awards / Oscars.

Filmography

- Eggplant(announced)
2016/I Gatekeeper (Documentary short)
2012 The Fruit Hunters (Documentary)
2012 China Heavyweight (Documentary)
2010 42 One Dream Rush (Short)
2009 Ali Shan (Documentary short)
2008 P.O.V. (TV Series documentary) (1 episode)

- Up the Yangtze (2008)
2007 Up the Yangtze (Documentary)
2003 Earth to Mouth (Video documentary short)
2002 The Fish Market (Short)

  • Director’s Interview

    06'16"

  • Preview

    01'11"

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