Long based in the United States, Takeshi Fukunaga is about as far outside the mainstream Japanese film industry as you can get. His directorial debut, 2015's “Out of My Hand,” was set in Liberia and New York City. His 2020 follow-up, “Ainu Mosir,” unfolded in an Ainu village in Hokkaido. For both films, he developed his script in consultation with locals and cast them as actors in major roles.

In Fukunaga’s new film, the broodingly powerful “Mountain Woman,” the director is again examining a marginalized community — an impoverished village in the Tohoku region — but minus the docudrama approach of his first two films. Co-scripted by Fukunaga, the film is set in the latter half of the 18th century with a story inspired by the folklore collection “The Legends of Tono.”

One comparison is the “Ballad of Narayama” films by Keisuke Kinoshita (1958) and Shohei Imamura (1983), both based on the mythical practice of abandoning the elderly in the mountains. But “Mountain Woman” also seems to borrow from the life of the French proto-feminist Joan of Arc.