At a time when many aspiring Japanese filmmakers spend years working on other people’s movies before having a chance to make one of their own, getting your first feature into cinemas at the age of 22 is no small achievement.

Writer-director Aya Igashi was already being touted as a name to watch when her graduation film, “Tokeru,” was screened in the Cinefondation section of last year’s Cannes Film Festival, on the recommendation of Naomi Kawase. With “A Crimson Star,” she makes good on that promise. It’s a distinctive and heartfelt debut, where even the quirks are endearing. To say that it feels like the work of a young director may sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s that same quality that makes it so refreshing.

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