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(Credit: Thiago Piccoli)

Film

Wim Wenders to direct new film about Tokyo's public toilets

German director of Wings of Desire and Paris Texas, Wim Wenders, has signed a deal to direct a film focussing on the fascinating subject of public toilets in Tokyo, Japan. 

The new fictional film is set to star the Japanese leading man Koji Yakusho and will be set in a public toilet which is part of the real-life urban renewal project known as The Tokyo Toilet Project, which involves the creation of 17 public toilets in key locations across Tokyo with designs from world-renowned Japanese architects, including Tadao Ando and Sou Fujimoto. 

Each of the toilets has an elegant futuristic design with unique details and functional features. One of the toilets is made entirely of glass, with walls that fill instantly with an opaque gas as the user enters.

Director Wenders, famed for his progressive filmmaking, said he was inspired by the futuristic appeal and unique cultural spirit of the project and decided to base his forthcoming, as yet untitled, film inside one of them. Yakusho is expected to portray the cleaner of one of these futuristic bathrooms, although additional story details are being kept under wraps for now.

“A toilet is a place where everybody is the same, there’s no rich and poor, no old and young, everybody’s part of humanity,” Wenders said in a statement. “There is something very Japanese about the idea, about the whole setting. And I almost think it’s a utopian idea.”

Wenders is currently searching for additional locations for the film around Tokyo. This information will hopefully put to rest those minds wondering how even a celebrated director of Wenders’ calibre could possibly create a watchable production solely from the setting of a lavatory. 

Production for the film is expected to begin later this year, with a release projected for 2023. The German filmmaker has a long-running connection with Japan, having directed his feature documentaries Tokyo-Ga (1985) about the Japanese master director Yasujiro Ozu and Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989), based on fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto.