In Nathan and David Zellner’s brooding, bizarre Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, a lone Japanese woman played by Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim) embarks on a dubious but ambitious journey to find a satchel of money she saw buried in a fictional U.S. film. We will all have a chance to find out whether or not she finds it thanks to newly-formed company Amplify, which just acquired the U.S. distribution rights for the film.
According to the film’s synopsis, the story is about Kumiko, a lonely, reticent, and depressed girl who lives in a small, disheveled apartment with her pet bunny—and only friend—Bunzo. Sick of the drudgery of working “as an office lady, robotically preparing tea and fetching dry cleaning for her nitpicky boss” in a big Tokyo firm, Kumiko spends her spare time searching for hidden treasures. When she discovers a battered videotape of a film claiming to be a “true story,” she embarks on a quest to find the film’s fictional treasure, utterly convinced that it exists. Her quest takes her to the brutal tundra-like climate of Minnesota, where Kumiko implacably searches for the treasure at any cost.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is suitably based on the tragic myth of Takako Konishi, who was believed to have embarked on a similar journey in North Dakota—with a map in hand—in 2001 to find the fictional treasure as seen in the Coen Bros.’s classic Fargo.
Kumiko was a popular attraction when it premiered at Sundance, generating a lot of buzz and picking up a special jury prize for the score composed by experimental techno-pop band The Octopus Project. The film also recently won the feature film screenwriting award at the Nantucket Film Festival and will play at the Fantasia International Film Festival later this month.
Though Amplify is a young distribution company (it was formed earlier this year in a merger between Go2 Digital and Variance Films), it has already acquired some highly anticipated films including the Terrence Malick produced The Better Angels, Sara Colangelo’s Little Accidents, Stuart Murdoch’s (frontman of Belle and Sebastian) musical God Help the Girl, and Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi head-spinner The Zero Theorem. Amplify has yet to determine a release date for Kumiko.