Rent a Family Inc.
Lej en Familie A/S

Film Info
Premiere Status:Denmark
Year of Prod:2012
Running Time:77
Original Language:Japanese
Awards:GGA Documentary Feature Contender
dir:Kaspar Astrup Schröder
prod:Mette Heide
cam:Kajita Akihiro
Kaspar Astrup Schröder
editor:Adam Nielsen
mus:Michael Andrews
source:Danish Film Institute
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Ryuichi Ichinokawa lives in Kawama City, a suburb of Tokyo where—unbeknownst to his wife and two sons—he is the proprietor of a most unusual business. He and his employees are “professional stand-ins,” who rent themselves out as fake spouses, parents, friends, and relatives (“whatever you want”) to a rapidly growing Japanese customer base “desperate…to cover up a secret.” His high-traffic website proclaims “I Want To Cheer You Up.” “I’m like a handyman fixing people’s social relationships,”Ryuichi explains on camera, and in Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s (The Invention of Dr. Nakamats, SFIFF 2009) alternately fetching, absorbing and offbeat documentary, we witness this firsthand through both the prism of several satisfied customers and Ryuichi’s alienated and estranged personal life, which in many fundamental ways, is the antithesis of what he has achieved through his business. (“I think about suicide every day,” he admits.) In the end, Rent a Family Inc. not only coalesces into a fascinating character study and incisive examination of a growing service industry in Japan, but also as a poignant, touching, ultimately sobering rumination on both the challenges of dealing with societal pressures, and the sometimes far-reaching gap between what we have, what we want and what we think we need in order to be happy.
-Tim Sika
Additional Information

Kaspar Astrup Schröder

Kaspar Astrup Schröder's film The Invention of Dr. Nakamats (SFIFF 2009) competed at major festivals in 2009 and 2010, including IDFA, Thessaloniki, Full Frame Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False and Melbourne Film Festival. The film has been sold to over 15 territories. Schröder’s latest documentary My Playground (2010) was selected for IDFA 2010. Schröder also works as a composer, artist and editor. He recently edited Last White Man Standing (2010) produced for ITVS, BBC, DR-TV and SVT.