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Taking its name from an alternative reading of the name for the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kannon, KanZeOn, which can be translated as "she who hears the cries of the world", is an unorthodox but utterly magical meditation on sound and the ritual and philosophical role it plays in Japanese Buddhism. Filmed in Kyushu, the film looks at, and more importantly listens to, three very special Japanese musicans: Akinobu Tatsumi, the young Buddhist priest and custodian of a temple outside of Kumamoto City who moonlights as a hip-hop DJ while indulges his love of beat boxing in the remote forests; Eri Fujii, who has devoted her life to the mastery of the sho, a rare and ancient Chinese bamboo wind instrument evoking the cry of the phoenix, and Akihiro Iitomi, a master of Noh theatre and a kotsuzumi drum player whose love of jazz almost matches that of his passion for Japan’s traditional performing arts.

As a documentary, KanZeOn does not seek to explain as much as to enlighten, taking the viewer on a hypnotic sensual journey from the timeless to the modern by way of a mystical parade of images that resonate seamlessly with the sounds.


Type of film
Running Time
87 mins
Digi-beta Tape
Neil Cantwell, Tim Grabham 1st Feature
Neil Cantwell, Tim Grabham
Tim Grabham
Principal Cast
Eri Fujii, Akihiro Iitomi, Akinobu Tatsumi

Production Company

Cinema Iloobia,
in association with The SRK