Water is life. But water can also be frightening. Everyone who has seen Hideo Nakata’s “Dark Water” (2002) or the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) would agree. In Sunsaku Hayashi’s experimental short film “Leaking Life”, water has its own ambivalent role.

His newest work “Leaking Life” is screened at the 69th Berlinale Film Festival.

We dive in the world of a tea bag being dumped into a glass of water. Hayashi explores a miniature universe that unfolds in his drawings. The 15-minutes movie makes it difficult to gather a logical storyline. It rather appeals on a sensual level, pushing us towards an affective reception. Literally, we see a storm in a teacup. The molecules are bustling about the screen.

In another scene, water is leaking from underneath a kitchen sink, floating the whole room. It pours in from every corner, carving its way through the apartment onto the street. There is no chance of stopping. The power of the water leak is daunting.

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Makoto Itabashi adds a corroding soundtrack to the animated pictures. About halfway in, the atmosphere lightens up. The music settles and the pictures lose their dark tone for a moment. The storm seems to be overcome. But this is just a little breather before we get sucked into a tunnel, confronting us with a clutter of colors. “Leaking Life” ends with a transcendental, Kubrickian roller coaster ride that leaves us in a white void.

Japanese director Shunsaku Hiyashi proofs that life is a journey and that everything around us is in flux. “Leaking Life” puts us in motion. His recent short films have won awards including the Animated Shorts Grand Jury Prize at the 24th Slamdance Film Festival in Utah, the Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film at the 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival in Michigan and the Golden Horseman for Best Animated Film in the International Competition at the 28th Filmfest Dresden.

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