This program brings together two medium-length works, made 13 years apart, that foreground Hamaguchi’s long-held ability to zero in on the nuances and pressure points of performance, identity, and (mis)communication. One of his earliest films, made while he was still a student at the University of Tokyo, Like Nothing Happened (2003, 43m) is an 8mm-shot, unhurried study of conversations, alternatively drifting and revealing, among five young friends (one played by Hamaguchi himself) that revolve around their outing to a horse racetrack. Heaven Is Still Far Away (2016, 38m), by contrast, is a cross between a ghost story and a film about filmmaking that peels back the layers of a relationship formed by absence—a subject Hamaguchi would mine further in Asako I & II and Drive My Car—in which a young loner becomes the reluctant vessel for a documentary filmmaker to commune with her deceased sister.

Please note: Like Nothing Happened is a digital transfer from the 8mm source material and will appear below HD standards.