Noteworthy for two films appearing in Berlin this month, Kazuhiro Soda is leading a new cinematic movement to revitalize the observational documentary with INLAND SEA nomination for Berlinale’s Glasshütt Original Documentary Award.

Los Angeles, CA – February 22, 2018 –

ROCK SALT RELEASING acquires rights to the latest work of Japan’s prominent documentary filmmaker, Kazuhiro Soda.

ROCK SALT RELEASING – Hollywood’s newest independent sales and distribution label spearheaded by Acquisitions Executive Daisy Hamilton and Dean Fernando at TriCoast Worldwide, has acquired the worldwide rights for prominent Japanese director Kazuhiro Soda’s (CAMPAIGN, MENTAL, OYSTER FACTORY) black and white observational film, INLAND SEA (“MINATOMACHI”, 2018, 122 min, Observational Film #7). INLAND SEA was chosen as an official selection to play in the 2018 Berlinale Forum section and has received the prestigious nomination for the second-ever Glasshütte Original Documentary Award

Photo: Inland Sea director Kazuhiro Soda and Kiyoko Kashiwagi celebrate Berlinale selection at EFM with TriCoast Worldwide and ROCK SALT RELEASING sales team (Daisy Hamilton, Strathford Hamilton, Marcy Levitas Hamilton, and Genesis Torres) from Film Festivals

“The new auteur-driven sales and distribution banner [ROCK SALT RELEASING] is kicking off slaes with Kazuhiro Soda’s official selection title Inland Sea,” reported The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Ritman exclusively. 

Produced by Kiyoko Kashiwagi, INLAND SEA takes place in a small village called Ushimado in the Inland Sea of Japan. Ushimado is forsaken by the era of modernization in post-war Japan. It was so beloved by film director Shohei Imamura that he set two of his films there (BLACK RAIN and DR. AKAGI). Today it is rapidly aging and in decline. Its rich, ancient culture and tight-knit community are on the verge of disappearing. 

Wai-chan is one of the last remaining fishermen in Ushimado. At the age of 86, he still fishes alone on a small boat to make his living, dreaming about retirement. Kumi-san is an 84-year-old villager who wanders around the shore everyday. She believes a social welfare facility “stole” her disabled son to receive a subsidy from the government. A “late-stage elderly” Koso-san runs a small seafood store left by her deceased husband. She sells fish to local villagers and provides leftovers to stray cats.

Photo from POV International’s Frederik Bojer Bové, describing INLAND SEA as “one of the best, sharpest, most beautiful and warmest film about the outskirts and depopulation I’ve ever seen.”

Director Bong Joon Ho (THE HOST, OKJA) described INLAND SEA as “such a subtly moving and breathtaking documentary,” adding, “The film feels like an observational record of the sincere, respectful relationship between the director and his subjects. But also the director’s ‘respectful distance’ from the people there.”

Soda’s observational style is defined by his unique ‘Ten Commandments’. He writes, “For the past 10 years, I’ve been making documentaries using ‘observation’ as my key word. I spontaneously roll my camera, watching and listening closely to the reality in front of me, banning myself from doing research or prescribing themes or writing a script before shooting. I impose these rules (‘Ten Commandments’) on myself to avoid preconceptions and to discover something beyond my expectation… When I’m rolling the camera, I try to look and listen to what’s going on in front of me, and try to interpret my observation to film language or actual shots.”

Photo: Kiyoko Kashiwagi and Kazuhiro Soda at the INLAND SEA screening at EFM’s Berlinale.

He searches in unexpected and hidden places of the everyday that are often overlooked, to seek and discover something innately human. For INLAND SEA, Soda unexpectedly records a poignant, heartbreaking scene which reminds him of the Japanese Mugen Noh Theatre, where a traveler encounters a ghost who tells the tale of a specific place.

“The scene where I was taken up the mountain by Kumi-san at twilight is just like a Mugen Noh play,” wrote Soda. “I had never imagined that I could film something like that in a documentary. INLAND SEA could make viewers feel as if they were watching a dream or an illusion.” 

Originally, INLAND SEA was filmed and edited entirely in color until Soda’s sudden decision to change the documentary to black and white. Soda noted, “Black and white has the strange effect of adding another layer of fiction, which fits this film perfectly. In fact, I cannot imagine this film in color anymore. I cannot believe I was seeing it in color until the very last stage of the post-production.”

Andréa Picard, Artistic Director of Cinéma du Réel raves, “With its sensitive approach and gentle curiosity, INLAND SEA approaches a certain timelessness. The generous and emphatic engagement that emerges from the film is both moving and beautiful.” 

“A delicate, patient, and rewarding film,” glows Benjamin Illos, a programmer of Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes.

INLAND SEA has been nominated for the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival for the Glasshütte Original Documentary Award. Soda also world-premiered his second documentary, THE BIG HOUSE (2018, 119 minutes, Observational Film #8) in Berlin Critics’ Week on February 16th.  


Soda has been recognized worldwide for his observational documentaries, beginning with his first feature documentary, CAMPAIGN (2007, Observational Film #1, winner of the Peabody Award in the U.S., Soda’s PEACE (2010, Observational Film Extra, the opening film of DMZ Documentary Festival, winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, winner of the Audience Award at the Tokyo Filmex), to name a few of the awards bestowed upon his work.

ROCK SALT RELEASING is honored to work alongside Soda with one of his two documentaries premiering at Berlinale this month. Both Soda and ROCK SALT RELEASING maintain and emphasize cinema’s ability to take the audience down deep into a narrower place, where they are forced to think and process the cinematic material.  

Soda asserts “For me, documentary is an art form to recreate my personal experience in film language and to share it with the audience. It’s not about whether what I witnessed was true or not. It is about my personal, subjective experience. It’s closer to diary than to journalism or academic writing.”

Kazuhiro Soda’s “Ten Commandments”:

1. No research.

2. No meetings with subjects.

3. No scripts.

4. Roll the camera yourself.

5. Shoot for as long as possible.

6. Cover small areas deeply.

7. Do not set up a theme or goal before editing.

8. No narration, super-imposed titles, or music.

9. Use long takes.

10. Pay for the production yourself.

For more information about INLAND SEA, please visit:  


Alongside Soda’s black and white observational documentary INLAND SEA, ROCK SALT RELEASING also launched sales at Berlinale for ROTTERDAM, I LOVE YOU, and the next installment in the Cities of Love franchise, overseen by Emmanuel Benbihy.

“Aimed at auteur-driven festival titles, ROCK SALT RELEASING will distribute films in the U.S., starting with Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance, and sell high-level packages in the foreign marketplace,” reported Ritman. 

INLAND SEA (2018, 122 min.) Directed by Kazuhiro Soda. Editor: Kazuhiro Soda. Cinematographer: Kazuhiro Soda. Original Music: Kazuhiro Soda. Japan/USA. Silent. Laboratory X, TriCoast Worldwide, Rock Salt Releasing.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Laboratory X – Kiyoko Kashiwagi, Kazuhiro Soda.

Special thanks: Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter 

About Rock Salt Releasing, a label of TriCoast Worldwide:

Daisy Hamilton and Dean Fernando. TriCoast Worldwide is a premium International sales agent, representing the best of US and international films at all the major film markets. Sister company to TriCoast Entertainment and TriCoast Studios, the company is located at the Studio facility in Culver City, Los Angeles. Founded by: Strathford Hamilton and Marcy Levitas Hamilton.

Media Contact
Company Name: TriCoast Entertainment
Contact Person: Jenna Wilen
Phone: 310 458 7707
Address:11124 Washington Blvd
City: Culver City
State: CA
Country: United States