AWFJ Movie of the Week, March 16-22: KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER

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Opening March 18, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Kumiko, The Treasure Hunterthe beguiling new film from actor-writer-director David Zellner and his co-writer brother Nathan Zellner. Their story is simple, yet brilliant. Lonely Japanese worker Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi; The Brothers Bloom, Pacific Rim) finds a VHS copy of the Coen Brothers’ classic 1996 crime caper Fargo and, convinced by the title card assertion that it’s a true story, believes it to be a genuine treasure map that will lead her to a large stash of cash buried beneath the Minnesota snow. Read on…

Kikuchi is outstanding as the alienated woman who has discovered a purpose, albeit one that is complete folly; with very little dialogue, she powerfully conveys Kumiko’s increasingly manic determination to succeed in her quest, eschewing all human contact in the process. It’s a performance which anchors the more outlandish aspects of this story, and one that’s beautifully framed by some evocative cinematography from Sean Porter (Grassroots, Eden) which underscores both her enigmatic portrayal and the film’s fairy tale sensibilities.

It’s no surprise that Kumiko has already picked up multiple award from across the international festival circuit; it’s an intriguing, lyrical piece of ‘simply stunning’ cinema that is also likely to boast one of the years standout performances.

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:

Jennifer Merin: Kumiko The Treasure Hunter is simply stunning from beginning to end. In a superb performance, Rinko Kikuchi transforms from a delusional and desperate young woman on a futile search for movie myth treasure into a demented kabuki character. Whoa! Everything about the movie is brilliant. I can’t wait to see it again.

Liz Whittemore: With seven nominations and four wins to date and Rinko Kikuchi in the lead role, you’ve already got a winner. The premise alone, regardless of casting, is incredible. Taking a girl out of her element is one thing, but throwing in the absurdity of using a Fargo VHS as a treasure map is on a whole other plane of wonderful.

Nell Minow: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter — because it is a fictional film based on the true story of a woman who thought that a fictional film (Fargo) was a true story.

MaryAnn Johanson: *Kumiko* *Kumiko* *Kumiko*! Such an amazing movie! Read more>>>

Film Details:

Title: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Director: David Zellner

Release Date: March 18, 2015

Running Time: 105 minutes

Language: English, Japanese

Shooting Location(s): Minnesota; Toko, Japan

Principal Cast: Rinko Kikuchi, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard

Screenwriter(s): David Zellner, Nathan Zellner

Production Company: Lila 9th Productions, Ad Hominem Enterprises (in association with)

Distributor: Amplify

Official Website


AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Katherine McLaughlin, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Perri Nemiroff, Kristy Puchko, Sheila Roberts, Liz Whittemore, Jeanne Wolf.

Other Movies Opening the Week of March 16-20, 2015:

March 18

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

March 20


The Gunman

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Hunting Elephants

Lily & Kat

Danny Collins

The Walking Deceased

She’s Lost Control



Do You Believe


Growing Up and Other Lies

Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police

Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, Associate Editor

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Nikki Baughan

Nikki Baughan is a London-based freelance film critic and features writer. Formerly editor of both Film Review and movieScope magazines, Nikki is currently contributes to various print and online publications, including Screen International, BFI, The List and Film Divider.