Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net

Follow the Light (directed and written by Narita Yoichi) may appear to be about aliens, but it is more about human connections.

“I wish a meteor would come and destroy earth,” young Akira longingly looks out the window. Rural life has already outlived its allure after he is transplanted from Tokyo to his freshly divorced dad’s hometown. Akira is a quiet and artistic boy – an outcast in his new school. However, he soon befriends the class reject. Alien to their classmates, the boys go for bike rides and ice cream, and act like most kids their age. On one of their rides, they discover a crop circle and are sworn to secrecy by the aggressive Maki. The mysterious dropout has a reputation at school, and spends her time staring at the sky from her uncle’s roof.

Akira is fascinated, and this brews a second friendship.

Residents are leaving for better lives, the school is closing down, and agriculture isn’t bringing in a living wage like in the olden days. And now there may be an alien invasion? As the townsfolk obsess over the crop circle, there are also other matters at hand. The school closure will be celebrated with a mural made by the students. Akira’s drawing talent suddenly makes him a hot commodity. But when his new friends exhibit less-than friendly behavior, tensions in the classroom come to a head.

While adults loll around clueless, it’s the children who find hope in what’s to come. It’s poignant that despite the sad state of their village, the crop circle allows them to believe in a future.

Fantasia Film Festival 2020 runs from August 5th to August 25th. 2020.

Follow the Light – On Demand, available to watch as of Friday. August 13th, 9AM.

Official Fantasia Website