Back in mid-2020, directors like Shinichiro Ueda, Shinji Higuchi and Shunji Iwai made shorts on the theme of isolation spurred by a dangerous virus. I thought they might be the first in a spate of pandemic-themed films.
Iwai later expanded his web series “The 12 Day Tale of the Monster that Died in 8” into a feature of the same title, but other filmmakers have been slow to follow suit. Two years after people in Japan started masking up to thwart the novel coronavirus, most new films here still feature maskless main characters who have apparently never heard of COVID-19.
One exception is “Ribbon,” an impactful, imaginative first feature directed and scripted by actor Rena Nonen, who goes by the stage name Non. Inspired by an interview with an art college graduate, who said that a piece she had spent a year making now felt like trash because she could no longer exhibit it due to a lockdown, the film seethes with the frustration and anger felt by the protagonist and those around her. And, yes, they wear masks when need be.