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Double Desire: Navigating Post-3/11 Relationships in Hamaguchi Ryūsuke’s “Asako I & II” (2018) – NCTA Online Film Club

Director Hamaguchi Ryūsuke burst into the cinematic mainstream with his Best International Feature Film Oscar win for Drive My Car in 2022, but few are aware of his already prodigious filmography. Coming from a theatrical background and with a penchant for working with amateur actors, many of Hamaguchi’s films focus on the impact of the 3/11 Triple Disaster on human relationships, Asako I & II being a particular standout. While never addressing or depicting the 3/11 catastrophe directly, the spectre of this tragedy veritably haunts the story of a young woman (Asako) and her relationship with Ryūhei, who bears an uncanny physical resemblance to her enigmatic former lover, Baku. In its incorporation of theatrical conventions and classic filmic tropes, Hamaguchi’s film invokes the very origins of cinema and its connection to the advent of modern psychoanalysis.

In this online workshop we discussed this fascinating and evocative film and the ways in which it explored interpersonal relationships in the age of climate catastrophe and the limits of cinematic representation.

Participants were expected to watch the movie Asako I & II on their own before the program. The movie can be watched with a free trial on Fandor (Youtube), on Amazon Prime Video, and on Apple TV.

Here is the trailer for Asako I & II:

Date and Time

Wednesday, May 15, 2024, from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM (PST).

This program was held on Zoom.

Program Leader

Nathaniel Heneghan is an independent scholar, poet, playwright, and punk rock drummer based in Seattle, WA. He received his PhD from the University of Southern California, and his research examines the evolution of Zainichi Korean representation in literature and film from the colonial period to present. His current project explores notions of confession and “coming out” in recent Zainichi cultural production.

Program Benefits

  • Free 4 WA OSPI Clock Hours
  • Online access to the film
  • Online resources.

Program Resources

Click here to view the PowerPoint Presentation compiled by the program leader, Nathaniel Heneghan.

This workshop was offered to K-12 educators free of charge thanks to a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation to the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), and it is sponsored by the University of Washington’s East Asia Resource Center.