The Contestant

Clair Titley / United Kingdom / 2023

A real-world 'The Truman Show’ in which a Japanese man became a national superstar without realising it through a bizarre reality TV show. A story stranger than fiction, which gets a second chapter as he is looking back at it today.

In 1998, Japan gets its first reality star, but the star doesn’t realise it. Hamatsu Tomoaki – better known as Nasubi (‘eggplant’) – has been left naked and alone in a room with nothing but a stack of magazines. On the back of these magazines are competitions where you win random prizes. So if Nasubi wants clothes or something to eat, he has to win it. And if he wants to get out of the room, he has to win prizes worth one million yen through the competitions. That’s the concept of the show Nasubi is the star of. But what he doesn’t realise is that an entire nation is following his mission on live TV and without his knowledge, he becomes the most famous TV personality in Japan. In other words: Welcome to the real-life answer to ‘The Truman Show’.