Firefly Dreams
(Ichiban Utsukushii Natsu)


Award winning director John Williams gives us a deep insight into Japanese society with this touching portrait of a rebel teenager growing up. City girl Naomi is packed off to work at her aunt’s hotel in the countryside after her mother runs off with another man.

She hates the hard work in the isolated hotel so her aunt arranges for her to look after an aging relative, Mrs. Koide, who is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. At first Naomi hates this too, but gradually becomes intrigued by the old woman and the mysteries in her past.

As Naomi’s summer romance with a local boy turns sour she grows closer to Mrs. Koide and they begin to share their secrets and their dreams, Naomi realising that the old woman was young once too. On her return to the city, Naomi discovers an old film from Mrs. Koide’s past, and comes to an understanding of life and grace as she begins her new life as a young adult.


         Maho Ukai as Naomi                     Yoshie Minami as Mrs Koide         Atsushi Ono as Naomi’s father  



Best Feature, Hawai’i IFF
Best Film, Manila IFF
Audience Award, San Jose and Netpac film festivals
Special Mention at Karlovy Vary IFF
Signa Award, Infinity IFF (Italy)
Fiprechi Prize, Mannheim-Heidelburg FF

ffd6When her mother apparently leaves home, Naomi’s father sends the reluctant yet defiant teen to work at a hotel in the mountains owned by his sister’s family. With no visible improvement in her behavior, Naomi finally is sent to watch her aging relative, Mrs. Koide(Yoshie Minami), at her nearby home. The old woman is prevented by advancing Alzheimer’s disease from either remembering or wishing to talk about a life hinted to be full of both success and tragedy. But Naomi and Mrs. Koide slowly form a bond. Their friendship catalyzes Naomi’s acceptance of the rural family and environment, as well as her place in it.

Brit-born, Welsh-raised Helmer Williams moved to Japan in 1988, and based the long-in-gestation story on his experience of being approached to give advice to a troubled Japanese youth. Film feels authentically steeped in the culture of the small village in which it was made.

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"With totally engrossing performances by it’s two leads – Yoshie Minami, with roles in films by Kurosawa and other Japanese masters to her credit, as Mrs Koide and 21-year-old Maho Ukai in her first film role spot on as Naomi – Firefly Dreams is filmed beautifully by Yoshinobu Hayano and delicately edited by John Williams himself who also wrote the succinct script. Paul Rowe’s guitar score is haunting and effective." DVD Fever.com

"A deceptively simple, familiar story told exceedingly well, “Firefly Dreams” is a quietly confident and cumulatively affecting first feature from Japan-based writer-director John Williams." Variety

"The beautifully filmed countryside adds to the sense of dreamy enchantment, a perennial reminder of the importance of nature in a world being transformed by speedy consumerism and careless consumption. The shady pine forests of Horaicho, the river, the lonesome roads that Naomi cycles along with a particular joy are a glorious part of this subtle and understated coming of age tale. Firefly Dreams is just lovely, an unmissable meditation on memory and loss and growing up." Eithne Farry, Electric Sheep Review, 2009



2001 DVD PAL, Multiregion 16:9, 104 minutes, Language Japanese, English Subtitles, Colour, Dolby SR.

Price €9.99
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