Emmy-nominated filmmaker Lana Wilson, known for her 2013 award-winning abortion doc After Tiller (PBS), is now focussing her attention on the subject of suicide. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the global suicide rate has been rising faster than ever. In fact, in the developed world, suicide is now the leading cause of death for people ages 15-49. In Japan, which has one of the highest suicide rates of all, a new wave of socially engaged Buddhist priests has emerged, determined to fight this problem. One of them is Ittetsu Nemoto. A 42-year-old former punk rocker who used to work at a Tokyo McDonald’s, Nemoto is not your typical Buddhist priest. He loves Prince, his motorcycle, and dancing all night at clubs. In Lana’s upcoming feature documentary Last Call, she follows Nemoto as he works with desperate men and women to inspire them to keep on living.
Having done this work for the last ten years, Nemoto has become known in Japan both for his extraordinarily high success rate, and for his unusual approach to suicide prevention, which includes one-on-one counseling sessions, as well as dinners, parties, retreats, camping trips, and wild collaborative art projects. But when a health crisis puts Nemoto at serious risk, can he live by the same advice he gives out?
How can we find happiness? What is the best way to live? And in the most trying times of our lives, how can we gather the strength to carry on? Last Call will shine a light on the inspiring work that Nemoto is doing in Japan, with Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. It will create an opportunity for discussion and education for communities and leaders worldwide who are struggling in the current economic climate. And it will paint a lyrical, complex, and moving portrait of one imperfect individual, dealing with a profound contemporary issue that ultimately affects us all.
Lana will use her AWB grant to translate and edit the extraordinary footage that she has shot. We can’t wait to see! To learn more about Lana and her work, click here.