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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

David Zellner
USA 2014 / 105’

Carl Showalter, the character played by Steve Buscemi, buries a suitcase full of money in the snow. This scene from Fargo, combined with information that the film by the Coen brothers is based on a true story gives rise to Kumiko’s obsession. Approaching 30, she is an introverted dreamer living in Tokyo who is not fulfilling the expectations of her mother or of society. She is still not married, and she does not even have a boyfriend. At work, she is in a position usually reserved for much younger girls. When her boss lets her know that her time at the company is coming to an end, she gives in to an impulse, steals her boss’s credit card, and travels to the United States in order to dig up the fortune that Carl left behind. Somewhere between fiction and reality, between mental illness and unabashed imagination, the film’s heroine takes the opportunity that cinema offers her to escape from her gray everyday reality. Roaming the world but shying away from people, she falls deeper and deeper into her own loneliness. Her states of mind are illustrated perfectly by the music of the band The Octopus Project, who won an award at Sundance.  

Adam Horowski


Sundance FF 2014 - Special Jury Prize; Little Rock FF 2014 - Golden Rock Narrative Award

David Zellner

David Zellner was born in Greeley, Colorado, and lives in Austin, Texas. He is a director, a screenwriter, and an actor. He made his debut in 1997 with Plastic Utopia, and since then, he has teamed up with his brother, Nathan, to make independent films on a fairly regular basis, including both shorts and features. They are the co-owners of a small production company called Zellner Bros.

Selected filmography

1997 Plastic Utopia

2001 Frontier

2004 The Virile Man (short)

2008 Goliath

2012 Kid-Thing


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Official site

Cast & Crew

director David Zellner
screenplay David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
cinematography Sean Porter
editing Melba Jodorowsky
music The Octopus Project
sound René Jones-Jones
cast Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Kanako Higashi, Ichi Kyokaku, Ayaka Ohnishi, Mayuko Kawakita, Takao Kinoshita
producer Andrew Banks, Jim Burke, Cameron Lamb, Chris Ohlson, Nathan Zellner
production Lila 9th Productions, Zellner Bros., Ad Hominem Enterprises
sales Submarine, New York
language Japanese, English
colouration colour