Searching for hope in the aftermath of Japan's 2011 Tsunami

Koi Since the Tsunami hit the northern part of Japan's coast in 2011, more than 20 thousand people lost their lives, and many others are still missing. Over the years the families of the victims have abandoned all hope of finding their loved ones and few continue the search. This is the story of two unlikely men, from different backgrounds, who share a strong force of will and a wish to keep alive the memories of those lost. Through such perseverance, can an ex-convict find redemption for his past life? And will a widowed bus driver ever find his wife?

Koi (2019) on IMDb


LaurelMosaic World Film Festival - WInner Best Documentary Feature
LaurelBuffalo International Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelDocutah International FIlm Festival - Official Selection
LaurelJapan FIlm Festival LA - Special Screening

The Producers

Lorenzo Squarcia - Director / Director of photography / Writer / Producer

Lorenzo Squarcia (1994, Rome) is an Italian cinematographer. He studied foreign languages at high school and Film Arts at the Rome University of Fine Arts (Bachelor Degree). In 2017, together with his film company Jumping Flea, he moved to Japan to make his first documentary feature KOI. This documentary narrates the lives of two men who, following the 2011 tsunami in Japan, still persevere in their respective searches for the remains of people who went missing. It received the best documentary feature award at the Mosaic World International Film Festival 2019, was featured as a special screening at the Japan Film Festival in Los Angeles and has shown at the Docutah Documentary International Film Festival 2019 and the Buffalo International Film Festival 2019. The main theme of the original soundtrack was composed by the famous David Lynch’s composer Angelo Badalamenti, who loved the film and decided to compose for it.

Simone Spampinato - Producer / Editor / Writer

Simone Spampinato (1995, Rome) is an Italian film-maker. Living in Rome since 1995, he studied film-making at RUFA, the Rome University of Fine Arts. During the university years he wrote and directed short-films and documentaries, during his last year he directed The Place To Be (2016), which follows the re-decorating of the permanent collection of the MAXXI Art Museum. In 2016 he co-founded Jumping Flea, a film production company of young filmmakers, based in Rome. In 2017 he produced, co-wrote and edited Koi (2018), a documentary about a group of volunteers that are currently tracing down the objects and remains of the people who died during the 2011’s tsunami that hit the coast of Japan. Koi has won awards as Best Documentary at the Mosaic Film Festival in Chicago and was nominated in other festivals such as DocUtah and BIFF. In 2019 is working on Fort Apache a documentary about group of ex-convicts that are now working as an actor group in Rome.

Manuel Grieco - Producer / Editor

Manuel Grieco (1991, Rome) is an Italian producer, editor and director. He started to work in the movie industry when he was about 20 years old, as an assistant editor. He was soon involved in major international projects, like films, tv shows, and documentaries. Among the most important films, there are "La Macchinazione" and "5 Perfect Number”. He always pursued his passion for filmmaking, specializing in post-production workflow, but also developing skills in every aspect of movie production, working also as camera operator and cinematographer. In 2016, he assembled a group of professionals, with the aim of producing creative and original content. So, in 2018, after almost 10 years of experience, he founded Jumping Flea, a production and post-production company based in Rome. In the last 2 years, as creative director of the company, Manuel has produced all types of content, working with some of the most important Italian companies. With Jumping Flea, he realized 2 documentaries, “Notarangelo the Soulhunter” and “Koi”.

Making The Film

Director's Statement

A legend narrates that, a long time ago, a carp swam upstream all the way up to a waterfall, where the so called “Dragon’s Door” was located. The door transforms into an immortal dragon anyone who would enter through it. The Koi fish is the main symbol of the documentary because perseverance is what pushes the two main characters in their research activities. Koi is my first feature length documentary and it took 3 years to be completed. I was inspired by Patricio Guzmán documentaries about the Desaparecidos of Chile. During my researches about Japan’s regions hit by the 2011 tsunami, I came across Tomohiro Narita and Yasuo Takamatsu stories. Two men who are still searching the missing people, in order to keep their memories alive. I was impressed when I read about them, because they reminded me of what Guzmán had documented in Chile, but in a different way and different causes. I wanted to give to the two characters the most realistic look possible, giving to them the narration of the film and taking the audience from the beginning to the end, looking at them with a different view and using different shooting styles. I wanted to make it possible for the spectator to be close to them, feeling the love that Yasuo shows for his wife or the force of will shown by Tomohiro and his group in order to help others. The documentary’s themes, in fact, are the importance of memory and the strength of perseverance that push us forward when we are faced with hardships in life. I think that both the characters, even if different, can be an example to the audience. They changed me and living with them for a while was one of the best experiences of my life. I hope that this documentary may reflect what my crew and I lived.

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