“If one was to be poisoned by radiation, if he or she did so out of their own will and conviction I believe it to be perfectly fine. But you can't force that onto the children. The children, you must distance them from the poisoned areas.”
So says Koide Hiroaki, Associate Professor at Kyoto University's Nuclear Test Facility and a prominent anti-nuclear campaigner, in the documentary Friends After 3.11, which will have its international premiere at next month's Berlin International Film Festival.
Also being unveiled at the festival are two other Japanese films dealing with the March 11, 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power station and ensuing tsunami.
Funahashi Atsushi's Nuclear Nation: The Fukushima Refugees Story, will have its world premiere in Berlin. Produced by Documentary Japan, it's described as a portrait of a mayor without a town who tries desperately to keep together a community scattered across various emergency shelters in the Tokyo suburbs. In the process, he questions old certainties.
The New York-based Atsushi's last movie was 2009's Deep in the Valley, which combined a contemporary romance set in the old section of downtown Tokyo with a period drama based on Five-Story Pagoda, a classic literary work by Rohan Koda.
Atsushi has said, “My films aspire to present a universal 'visual' language of human emotions, which essentially highlights not the differences in people but the commonalities in them.”
Toshifumi Fujiwara's No Man's Zone (Mujin chitai, pictured) delves into the contaminated zone around the nuclear reactors and is said to evoke “images of an invisible apocalypse.”
The film premiered at Tokyo FILMeX in November. In a laudatory review, JFilmPowWow's Nicholas Vroman observed that Fujiawara's journey “takes him within the 50 kilometer no man's zone surrounding the crippled and leaking Fukushima Nuclear plant. The journey is not merely the usual disaster sightseeing trip, but a serious questioning of how it was and is being mediated, along with a healthy dose of asides and commentary, interviews with a handful of holdouts living with the zone and scenes of destruction countered with things like blooming cherry trees and flowers. For a film about one of the major disasters that ever hit Japan, it's surprisingly beautiful.”
Directed by Iwai Shunji, Friends After 3.11 screened on Japanese broadcasters Sky Perfect TV and Asahi News Star in November. “After 3.11, I noticed I'd made new friends. After this East Japan Earthquake, we all bore a deep wound,” said Shunji.
“Countless lives, treasures were taken from us. And the nuclear accident at Fukushima Plant became a catastrophe worse than Chernobyl. From now on, both Japan and the world will have to live with this burden. Speaking with many people, I made new friends. The realities of the disaster as told by these 'friends,' the days following, and then today. I want to portray the present and future of Japan, with all of its problems and obstacles.”
During the filming of an earlier doco on the subject, Tatsuya Mori's 311, some survivors reacted angrily when they were approached by the film crew. People expressed horror and fury when they saw the cameras, the China Post reported when the film premiered in October at the Busan festival.
“We felt we had a duty to record what had happened and there is certainly a degree of egoism to filmmaking,” said Mori. “But we were constantly asking ourselves 'how do we approach this, what do we do to help those who survived and those who are dead?' In the end I think that became the theme of the whole film — how do we react to such a thing?”