In one moving scene in “Nuclear Nation,” one of the displaced residents, Masayoshi Watanabe, lights up a cigarette in a car and talks directly into the camera, strangely more movie-like than any Hollywood actor.
“Our town is gone. It’s just land,” he says pensively.
The movie started with 1,400 people in the school building, but that has dwindled lately to about 100. Funahashi is determined to keep filming until the last person leaves.
“The evacuated people are being forgotten,” said Funahashi. “And criminal responsibility is also being forgotten.”
Reputed director Sion Sono has also written and directed the sarcastically titled “The Land of Hope,” departing from his usual ruthlessly violent avant-garde for a soap-operatic account of an elderly couple who commit suicide after a nuclear catastrophe set in the fictitious future.
Sono’s “Himizu,” a haunting coming-of-age film set in a surreal Japan hopelessly covered with tsunami debris, is more typical Sono in its raw, dark style, criticizing the adult world as irresponsibly cruel and abusive to this nation’s younger generation that must cope with radiation.
Yojyu Matsubayashi took a more standard documentary approach for his “Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape,” interviewing people who were displaced in the Fukushima town of Minami Soma.
He followed them into temporary shelters in cluttered gymnasiums and accompanied their harried visits to abandoned homes with the gentle patience of a videojournalist. Japanese mainstream media had abandoned the no-go zone, and he felt it was up to freelance reporters like him to tell the true story, especially for the helpless elderly.
“I’ve been making documentaries for some time, but when the nuclear accident happened, I felt I had to be there,” he said. “Once I got there, I knew I had to be there for a long time and express the eternal from that one spot.”
His main message?
He wouldn’t have made a movie if it were all that simple, Matsubayashi said quietly.
“It was human arrogance that led to this disaster, this crisis,” he said. “We thought we could control even nature. And that’s why this happened. Our lives were dependent on electricity from Fukushima. We shouldn’t be making excuses that we didn’t know, that we didn’t care. Maybe that’s why I made this movie.”
Others are finding their work is drawing more attention after Fukushima.
Hitomi Kamanaka, who has devoted her life to documenting radiation issues, such as the struggles over a Japanese nuclear reprocessing plant and sicknesses in Iraq suspected of being caused by uranium bullets, is in the spotlight like never before.
Her 2012 film “Living With Internal Exposure” compiled the views of four medical experts who studied radiation’s effects in Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Iraq and Fukushima, warning about the health damage that radiation can cause.View Entire Story
By Elaine Donnelly
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