Takeshi Fukunaga first came to international attention at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, where his debut feature, "Out of My Hand," premiered. He is only now bringing the film to his homeland, and at a preview screening at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ) last week an audience member asked a question he had doubtless heard many times before: Why did he choose such an unusual subject, for a Japanese filmmaker at least?

"Out of My Hand" follows a Liberian immigrant's struggles in his own country, where he labors as a low-paid rubber plantation tapper, and in New York, where he works as a cab driver — and encounters a threatening reminder of his dark past.

After debuting in the Berlinale's Panorama section, the film traveled the festival circuit garnering praise and honors, including a nomination for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award. But Fukunaga first had to labor long and hard to not only raise the money, but also shoot the film in less than ideal conditions in Liberia, a small West African country emerging from decades of political turmoil.