Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (header)

Despite what that disclaimer led people to believe, the Coen BrothersFargo was not actually based on a real incident. But in a twist out of a Hollywood movie, the untrue Fargo wound up playing a part in a strange true tale after all, and now there’s a movie about the latter.

Directed by David Zellner and based on a 2001 event, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter centers on a lonely Japanese woman (Rinko Kikuchi) who becomes convinced that a stash of money buried in a fictional film is real, and heads to Minnesota to seek the buried fortune.

Which sounds like a great basis for a whimsical indie — but in reality, the woman’s quixotic quest turned out to be something else, something sadder and darker, entirely. Hit the jump to take a first look at the pictures and find out what actually happened to the “treasure hunter.”

The new photos below come from Sundance. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter was announced as part of the festival’s 2014 lineup earlier this week. The pics reveal that Kikuchi looks good in red and that Minnesota is very cold, although we didn’t need them to tell us that.

The plot synopsis suggests that Zellner’s film will be about a girl looking for made-up riches, but the true true story had nothing to do with Fargo or buried treasure at all. Badass Digest has an excellent article about Takako Konishi (Kumiko’s real-life counterpart) and her tragic end, and it’s well worth a read.

The gist of it is that Konishi’s death — which local police and the media initially believed was an accidental result of her ill-advised search — was in truth a suicide caused by a personal, non-Coen-related crisis. The whole Fargo legend was just the result of what Paul Berczeller, who previously filmed a documentary short about Konishi, called “a Coen brothers-style series of tragic misunderstandings.”

Whether Zellner will incorporate Konishi’s genuine motives into his movie remains to be seen, but either way her tale adds an interesting wrinkle to his premise.

 

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