Nippon No Kuroi Natsu - Enzai (2001)

Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |  
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Synopsis by Mark Deming

In 1994, nerve gas was released in the Japanese city of Matsumoto, which led to the death to the death of seven people and severe illness in several hundred others. In time, the attack was proved to be the work of a fanatical religious cult known as Aum Shinrikyo (who were responsible for several other terrorist attacks), but in the initial rush to determine who was the culprit, a man named Toshio Kanbe was accused by the press of the crime, and the widespread scrutiny turned his life into a shambles, even though it was later proved that he was innocent of wrongdoing. Nippon No Kuroi Natsu -- Enzai is a drama that looks at Kanbe's story, as it is researched by a pair of high school students. Makoto Sasano (Kiichi Nakai) is the producer of a popular television magazine show, News Express, who assigns three of his best reporters to cover the gas attack in Matsumoto; one of the young reporters files a story claiming that the gas in question could be easily manufactured with common ingredients, and it's discovered that Toshio Kanbe (Akira Terao), the man who first reported the gas, has most of the ingredients in his home. Kanbe vigorously proclaims his innocence, but continued reports by News Express reporter Koji (Yukiya Kitamura) call his honesty into question, even though Sasano and his staff discover that their earlier story was false and that it would be all but impossible for the gas to be produced by anyone but an expert. Nippon No Kuroi Natsu -- Enzai was screened at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival.