Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin
Buta No Mukui (The Pig's Retribution), a film about spiritual salvation in a wild and crazy world, follows a young man's journey to his birthplace on the island of Majajima in Okinawa where he plans to bury the bones of his father, who died at sea twelve years earlier. Shokichi (Ozawa Yukiyoshi), the son of conductor Seiji Ozawa, is a university student who likes to hang out at a local bar on the main island of Okinawa chatting with three disillusioned barmaids: Miyo (Ameku Michiko), Yoko (Ueda Mayumi), and Wakako (Hayasaka Yoshie). When a pig from an overturned truck enters the bar and approaches Wakako, the women are terrified, as the pig is considered the harbinger of bad luck in Japan. They think that the pig has stolen Wakako's soul. Shokichi invites the girls to join him on his journey to his birthplace without telling them his real motive. The girls comply, thinking they will be cleansed of their wrongdoings by a god presiding on the island. But they all end up sick from eating bad pig meat and drinking too much liquor. Only Shokichi manages to remain on his feet and, despite all distractions, accomplish his filial duty to his father, while discovering along the way new possibilities of reconnecting to the sacred. Sai Yohichi uses the setting of the bucolic Okinawa, where the inhabitants enjoy modern comforts but respect the existence of ancient gods, as a metaphor for people who carry on their daily lives while keeping their attachments to old beliefs. Sometimes it takes a pig to put their spiritual lives in order! Buta No Mukui received the award of the Federation of International Cine Clubs (FICC) at the 1999 Locarno International Film Festival for the humor and simplicity of its dialogue and the economy of its cinematic language.