Yagira Yuya, the Japanese actor who won the acting prize in Cannes for his role in Koreeda Hirokazu’s “Nobody Knows,” heads the cast of “Gift of Fire,” which stands as the first internationally co-produced film made in 8K.
In the fact-based drama, Yagira plays a nuclear scientist who struggles with his conscience while working Japan’s own nuclear weapon effort, a secret program that remained largely unknown until ten years ago.
The film is directed by Kurosaki Hiroshi, whose past work includes multi award-winning “Goldfish” (aka “Hi No Sakana”) and 2011’s “Second Virgin.” It was produced in partnership between Japanese public broadcaster NHK and Los Angeles-based Eleven Arts.
“Gift of Fire” charts the relationship of the scientist, his younger brother, an air force pilot, played by Miura Haruma (“Attack on Titan”), and their lifelong female friend played by Arimori Kasumi (“Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part I – The Final”).
NHK recently screened the film on its 8K and 4K satellite channels and on the NHK General TV digital terrestrial channel. The company says it now plans to give it a theatrical release in 2021.
NHK is represented this week at Hong Kong’s virtual edition of FilMart by its sister company NHK Enterprises. International sales on “Gift of Fire” are handled by Eleven Arts.
“We used cutting-edge 8K technologies to make a drama that tackles the role of science in war head-on. Unprecedented imagery of yellowcake (a form of partially-processed uranium), of the blueish-green light emitted when atoms break up, and of the colorless, burned-out wasteland of Hiroshima after the atomic bombing draw viewers into the world of the drama as though they have traveled through time,” said producer Tsuchiya Katsuhiro. “The drama is serious, but it shows that people have tried to live life to the fullest in even the hardest of times. I want viewers to encounter them in 8K.”
NHK’s 8K channel was launched in 2018 and operates 12 hours a day, with content spanning drama, music, documentaries, culture, and travel. “Gift of Fire” is its fifth drama, following “Wife of a Spy” (2020), “A Stranger in Shanghai” (2019), “An Artist of the Floating World” (2019), and “The Sniffer” (2018). (It has also broadcast a two-hour documentary on the related subject of wartime nuclear physicists at Kyoto University.)
“NHK has always aired lots of war-related documentaries and dramas in August (the month of the American atomic bombings of Japan). In this 75th anniversary year, I am delighted that NHK has had the opportunity to work with an American coproduction partner on a project whose message is that humankind must never repeat the tragedy of the atomic bombings,” said NHK’s 8K channel controller Hakuno Takahiko.
“Thanks to the stunning realism of 8K and world-class creative input, we created a drama that can reach young people along with people of other age groups. NHK plans to pursue more major drama coproductions that expand the possibilities of 8K.”