The Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, "Departures" opens in North American this May. The film is a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan as well an astonishingly beautiful look at a sacred part of Japan’s cultural heritage.

The movie is based on the book, "Coffinman-The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician" by Shinmon Aoki. In the Foreword, Shin Buddhist scholar, Rev. Dr. Taitetsu Unno writes,

This little book, a diary of a mortician, invites the reader into the fascinating world of Buddhist spirituality which sees the extraordinary in things ordinary, mundane, and even repugnant. Written with deep affection for life and poetic sensibility, the author Shinmon Aoki evokes theworld of boundless compassion found in Shin Buddhism which evolved from the Pure Land tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.

“Departures” follows Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a “Nokanshi” or “encoffineer,” a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of “Nokanshi,” acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. A story of love, of discovery, of revelation and of the transcending human spirit, “Departures” will linger in your heart and mind long after viewing.

Expect to see "Departures" in Winnipeg by the end of 2009.