Real to Reel: Shoplifters

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BBFC RatingReal to Reel: Shoplifters

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GenreCrime, Drama
Director(s)Kore-eda Hirokazu
Running Time2HR 1MINS
Extra InfoScreening + discussion
SeasonMain Programme

Hirokazu Kore-eda directs a compassionate and humanistic portrait of a ragtag family, in his Palme d'Or-winning drama of life on the fringes of Japanese society. Followed by a discussion led by Dr Jonathan Heaney and Dr Rin Ushiyama.

Few filmmakers are as delicate observers of family units – and especially of children – as Kore-eda Hirokazu, and Shoplifters radiates with the same joyous naturalism and sad wisdom of his best work.

The eponymous shoplifters are the Shibatas, a low-income family of five struggling away in a tiny corner of Tokyo. Scrimping and saving, as well as stealing whenever necessary, this overcrowded household one day opens their door to an abused child wandering the neighbourhood. Wary of exposing their own living situation, they ignore the authorities and secretly adopt the little girl – to everyone’s greater happiness, but also peril.

The permissible definition of what makes a family is constantly under suspicion, even as we witness the Shibata’s closeness. Their ethical predicament will ultimately be laid bare in ways that resound long after this passionately humane film reaches its final frame.

The screening will be followed by a discussion led by Dr Jonathan Heaney and Dr Rin Ushiyama (both Sociology, QUB), reflecting on some of the sociological themes of the film.

Real to Reel: Film and Social Life is a monthly sociological cinema series presented in collaboration with the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University.

We're delighted to swing open the cinema door once more. You might like to read more about the measures we're taking to reduce the risk from COVID-19, including allocated seating. Find out more here. If you have any questions, we've got a new range of FAQs here, and you can email us on

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