• Director: Christopher Makoto Yogi
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2018

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At Akiko’s Zen Buddhist bed-and-breakfast on the Big Island of Hawai’i, the host offers a few words of guidance for guests: “Leave no trace… leave only a ‘presence,’ a feeling that for a moment you loved a place so deeply that both you and the place were transformed, and both became more beautiful.” The transformative power of place is the theme of August at Akiko’s, which follows Alex, a young jazz musician on a meandering search for his late grandparents’ home on Hawai’i. Hunting for his family roots, Alex wanders into a Zen B&B on a sleepy corner of the island, where he forms an unlikely friendship with its owner, a quirky old woman named Akiko. 

Starring Alex Zhang Hungtai and Akiko Masuda playing fictionalized versions of themselves, August at Akiko’s is a dreamy ode to the Big Island and its Japanese American communities. A striking visual meditation on Zen, memory, and creative inspiration, the film deftly navigates the zone between dream and reality, past and present, belonging and estrangement. The New Yorker film critic Richard Brody included August at Akiko’s on his list ofThe Best Movies of 2019,” calling it “transcendently inventive,” while Variety described it as “a gentle paean to Hawaii, jazz and inner peace.” 

To learn more about August at Akiko’s, visit augustatakikos.com.

This film was available to stream until midnight on April 3, 2020. Tricycle’s screening has ended, but you can find the film on The Criterion Channel, Amazon, and Kanopy.

my soul drifts light upon a sea of trees