Inspired by the real-life mass homicide committed by the Aum Sect in Japan, Kore-eda’s Distance grapples with the impenetrable mystery surrounding a suicide cult’s mass killing and the relatives of those involved who meet on the anniversary to contemplate their loved ones’ deadly actions.
A massacre initiated by the followers of an apocalyptic religious sect, the Ark of Truth, leaves more than a hundred people dead - including the self-appointed executioners, slain by fellow cult members. Three years on, to mark the anniversary of the slaughter, four friends who lost loved ones in the tragedy seek solace by journeying to the secluded lake where it all began. There they encounter a man who was with the executioners until the very moment the killing began, and their pilgrimage takes a strange, unexpected turn.
An investigation of how the past invades and complicates the present, of his third film Kore-eda says, “The characters in my film neither repudiate the killers, nor ask for pity. They are trapped in the aftermath, half way between victim and criminal. . . . I chose to treat neither the crime nor the cult responsible for it. I am interested in those left behind.”