As we learned from Raphael Orlove, Japanese car makers were so flush with cash at the height of the ‘80s-’90s bubble-era they just had to find new and elaborate ways to spend it whether it was new brands (Mazda’s Amati & M2) or wicked-fast sports cars with bleeding-edge technology like AWD and twin-turbos.
Nissan wasn’t content with trotting out three increasingly weird March-derived subcompacts as shown in the photo gallery here. No, Nissan hired a number of up & coming directors in 1991 to direct a series of short films about their new Figaro.
Argentinian director Alessandro Agresti directed Library Love, set in Paris.
Japanese director Kaizo Hayashi directed Man From The Moon, set in Tokyo.
French director Claire Denis directed Keep It For Yourself, set in New York
Not much is known about the first two - there was a trailer on YouTube that has long since been deleted - but Claire Denis’ work has popped up a few times on the festival circuit as she went on to be an acclaimed indie filmmaker. Still, it never showed up on any of the popular online platforms and I spent years tracking it down until the folks at LeCinemaClub tracked down a rare Japanese VHS copy and cleaned it up.
It is your basic romance: boy and girl are in a long-distance relationship, girl flies to NYC only to find boy has disappeared, leaving her the key to his shitty apartment. Girl tries to exist as a stranger in a strange land and runs into a series of characters, one of whom has a Nissan Figaro that isn’t his.
Keep It For Yourself is at once a car commercial, a love story, and a snapshot of a piece of New York that I’m told no longer exists. Parts of it haven’t aged all that well, some of the fraunch and New York accents get muddled in the old VHS audio track, and yes, there is some nudity, but it is a wonderful little film that doesn’t feel like a car commercial.
You have about three days before this film is taken down.