Chime, the upcoming film from Japanese auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa, has been set as the first original production of media platform Roadstead and will be released exclusively on the platform in 2024.
Kurosawa, who won best director at Venice in 2020 with Wife Of A Spy, shot the film in September in Tokyo. It stars Mutsuo Yoshioka as a schoolteacher whose life is disrupted by a chime that brings with it an increasing sense of dread.
It marks the first film produced by Roadstead, a media platform that was launched in December 2022 by Nekojarashi, a Japanese technology firm that previously invested in features including Kurosawa’s Wife Of A Spy and Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Oscar-winning Drive My Car.
Unlike streaming platforms, Roadstead sells films online as if they were a physical item like a DVD. Not only can buyers watch the film but also sell it on or earn income by renting it out. Each purchase has a serial number and if users distribute the film through buying or selling, the rights fees are returned to the exhibitor from the takings.
Roadstead operates on a Web3-enabled platform, a decentralised form of the internet based on blockchain – the shared ledger systems used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Roadstead claims it is the first digital video trading (DVT) platform and aims to “offer filmmakers fair compensation and a sustainable creative space”. It is understood to be developing a further original project with another filmmaker.
Nikkatsu Corporation has boarded international sales of Chime and will submit the title to festivals in 2024.
The film is produced by C&I Entertainment, the Tokyo-based firm whose credits include Drive My Car, with producers Hideyuki Okamoto of Sunborn Inc. alongside Miyuki Tanaka and Roadstead CEO Misaki Kawamura. Co-producer is Erika Murayama.
Kurosawa shot Chime shortly after filming wrapped on upcoming French thriller The Serpent’s Path, which stars Damien Bonnard and Ko Shibasaki, and is an adaptation of Kurosawa’s own 1998 feature of the same name.
“I tried to tell the story of an ordinary middle-aged man who is woken by a chime and finds himself wandering between the everyday and the surreal,” said the filmmaker of Chime. “He is afraid. But he has faith. This absurdity is also a kind of freedom that allows him to slip out of the modern society that otherwise binds him through the crevices of its morals, justice, and conscience.”
Producer Okamoto noted how making the film differed from his previous collaboration with the auteur. “When we were making Wife Of A Spy, I simply asked Kiyoshi Kurosawa to make a film set in Kobe,” he recalled. “This time I told him he was free to make whatever he wanted, which is as simple an instruction as you can get. What resulted is unmistakably a Kiyoshi Kurosawa film that is not science fiction or horror, but a whole new genre.”