An Ant Strikes Back

(Ari jigoku tengoku)

- JAPAN / 2019 / Japanese / Color / Digital File / 98 min

Director, Photography, Editing: Tsuchiya Tokachi
Music: Hirai Masaya
Sound Editor: Tokida Takashi
Narration: Kano Kotaro
Narrative Structure: Tsuchiya Tokachi, Iida Motoharu
Produced by: Low Position, Office Shirahama-dai
Source: Tsuchiya Tokachi

A certain moving company—its employees call it “ant hell.” Forced to work long hours, they remain trapped in debt, having to pay out of their own pockets the cost of any accidents or repairs for which they may be responsible. One 34-year-old man in the sales department takes a stand, signing up with a labor union, even if no one else from the company will join him. This action gets him transferred to working a dusty paper shredder, and soon after given punitive dismissal.

[Director’s Statement] The economic miracle is over in Japan, and harsh workplaces are increasingly the norm. Sales employee Nishimura (a pseudonym) comes to realize that his company is operating illegally, and he joins an individual membership-based labor union. A workplace free from hardship is an urgent existential necessity, while problems that are insurmountable alone may be successfully confronted when people join hands and work with one another. My hope is that our audience will reflect on their own workplaces—as well as those of their family and friends—while watching this film.

Tsuchiya Tokachi

Born in Kyoto in 1971 and raised by a single mother. Worked as a day laborer at various jobs—newspaper delivery, bookstore clerk, and factory employee. He began working in film in 1999 and established a film group in 2006 called Low Position with Iida Motoharu and Tokida Takashi. His first film, A Normal Life Please (2008), received awards from several international film festivals including the Raindance Film Festival and Dubai International Film Festival. His other films include The Aging Degradation (2013) and Secret of KONBINI (2017).