Tomoaki Hamatsu, known as Nasubi, was left with only a pen, some blank postcards, a telephone and rack full of magazines.

But he was not there to read. The concept of the show was to see if a human being could survive on competition prizes alone.

In order to win the challenge, the value of the prizes he won had to reach a certain financial threshold - 1m yen, around £6,000 at the time.

He would not emerge for 15 months, following a gradual descent into depression and mania, driven by hunger and isolation. Nearly three decades later, Nasubi’s ordeal is being revisited as part of a new film that has just screened at the Sheffield Documentary Festival.

“I came across his story when I was working on a different project and got lost down one of those internet rabbit holes,” recalls Clair Titley, director of The Contestant.

“But I found that a lot of what I had come across was almost derogatory. Nothing had really talked about Nasubi’s story in depth. [I had] all these questions such as, why did he stay in there, and what effect it had on him. So I contacted him with that premise, that I wanted to make a film about his experience.”

    • SirSnufflelump
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      1 month ago

      I watched a different documentary about this guy but yeah it was a very compelling story. Can’t remember who made it though…

  • Nusm@yall.theatl.social
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    1 month ago

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this, but the documentary is on Hulu, so I’m going to give it a watch.

    • Nusm@yall.theatl.social
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      1 month ago

      After watching it, it was insane what they put that poor guy through. It seems like he has finally found his purpose in life though, which I’m happy for.