Viewers followed 11-year old Tomo (Rin Kakihara, “Erased”) who was a girl that had to grow up faster than her body could. Her mother Hiromi (Mimura, “One Missed Call 2”) abandoned her from time to time pursuing a new love interest, leaving the elementary student to take care of herself. When things turned to a breaking point, Tomo went to her uncle who worked at a bookstore. Makio (Kenta Kiritani, “Beyond Outrage”) had taken care of his niece before but this time was different. He told Tomo that he was in a relationship with a woman and that she was “unusual”. When the girl entered the surprisingly clean and neatly decorated apartment, she found Rinko (Toma Ikuta, “Honey and Clover”), a kindhearted transwoman. Out of politeness, she didn’t question her uncle’s new lover and slowly warmed up to her. Though the trio were comfortable at their apartment, Tomo found out the harsh reality Rinko and other members of the LGBTQ community faced. As the cusp of puberty inched closer, she will learn about love and gender while discovering the meaning of family.

The film is an exploration of family life. It may be surprising how open both Makio and Rinko are to Tomo about certain subjects but it seems they know how mature she is compared to other kids. While the movie shows a lot of scenes where Rinko is accepted as who she is, it still has some where close-minded characters approach her. They are a reminder that reality still contains those that have yet to let go of heteronormity and embrace all identities outside of the binary. Having knitting be the metaphor for family seems to be best fitting since most yarn is soft like the atmosphere of the movie. Also like knitting, making something takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes callouses form after using the needles. The activity embodies Rinko who did a lot to become who she is and the tolerance she developed against some of the mean things said about her. While some of the discussions regarding Rinko’s transition are family-friendly, the movie does contain scenes about suicide. Even with such young characters, “Close-Knit” does not fray from the serious matters that everyone should learn about.

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival awarded “Close-Knit” its Teddy Award in February, “the most outstanding queer film prize in the world” according to the Berlinale website. Out of all 300+ film shown, the special jury recognized it as its best LGBTQ piece. Later in April, it got the Audience Award at Italy’s 19th Udine Far East Film Festival.

To read more on the film and check out some similar recommendations, visit the San Diego Asian Film Festival’s page. Follow Pacific Arts Movement to find out what other events they will be hosting.