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This film is about a friendship growing out of walking together (in toe), while neither understanding nor leading each other well (in tow). It is set on one of the long stairways in the hilly town of Lisbon, where Dona Maria, a Portuguese lady, frequently walks up the stairs with a tall guy from somewhere in Asia. She tells her stories about her past and present. They share expressions and laughter to resonate with each other, more than they do knowledge or information to identify and grasp each other. Because of the language barrier, their conversation often gets derailed, pointless and lost, arriving nowhere, but along the way, they become who they weren’t before. Capturing the specific space of encounter, the film blurs the clear distinction between ability and disability, and questions the way we can be together with others.
Born in Fukuoka, Japan, Atsushi Kuwayama gained a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree with a major in anthropology. Working in Kyrgyzstan through an international cooperation agency, he published a Kyrgyz-Japanese Dictionary 1.0 online. After returning home, he worked as an assistant producer for several documentaries. He is currently finishing his master’s degree in documentary filmmaking within DocNomads, an Erasmus Mundus program. His first short film Olivia, (Portugal, 2015) co-directed by Anna Schlenker, was selected for the 56th Cartagena International Film Festival and other international film festivals.
Olivia (2015), A Friendship in Tow/Toe (2017)