Sunday, December 15, 2013

Becoming Extinct

It was a humbling experience to screen my Fukushima documentary 'A2-B-C' (WEBSITE) in Hiroshima, a city with its own terrible nuclear history.

The screening during the Hiroshima Peace Film Festival (WEBSITE) took place on Friday at Yokogawa Cinema (details HERE) following the classic Japanese film "いきてるうちがはななのよしんだらそれまでよとうせんげん (Ikiterisu uchi ga hana nanoyo, shindara soremade yotousengen)" (1985), which eerily mentions the plants in Fukushima in a story about workers in the nuclear industry.

During the post-screening Q&A, led by Dr. Takahashi Hiroko from Hiroshima City University, I was asked if I personally had any message about Fukushima to the people of Hiroshima.  I was caught off-guard and thought for a moment;  I am sometimes asked to speak on behalf of the people of Fukushima, something I always try to avoid as I can only speak about my personal experiences and not for anyone else.  Now, in Hiroshima, I felt an even greater responsibility to honor my policy not to speak on behalf of the people of Fukushima.

"I am simply a messenger," I told the audience.  "The message I have is from the Fukushima mothers, and I am delivering it to you through this film."

On Saturday I attended the screening of "X nen go (X Number of Years Later)" directed by Ito Hideo (WEBSITE).  The documentary follows the story of a high school history teacher as he tries to track down and document the surviving fisherman of the "Lucky Dragon 5" incident, in which hundreds of Japanese fishing vessels (and not just the "Lucky Dragon 5", as is incorrectly believed by some) were exposed to fallout from nuclear testing by the US.

For anyone who is concerned about Fukushima and the effects of radiation on people's health YEARS after exposure, this film is a MUST see.

Later in the afternoon, I had the honour of sitting on a panel with Mr. Ito (photo below), along with other film directors and the organizers of the Hiroshima Peace Film Festival.

Today, the closing day of the festival, the screenings were held in festival organizer Aohara Satoshi's family's temple, and it was a beautiful atmosphere for watching films about peace and awareness.

During the closing remarks, each of the attending directors was offered an opportunity to speak.  I mentioned how interesting it is that Mr. Aohara is a documentary filmmaker focusing on Fukushima whose father is a Buddhist priest, while I am documentary filmmaker focusing on Fukushima and my father is an Episcopal priest.

I also remarked on how many of the films that were screened this year at the Hiroshima Peace Film Festival were somehow related to Fukushima.  I wondered out loud about what films the festival, which is held every two years, would have been screening had the 2011 disaster in Fukushima not happened.

"If we were to find true Peace," I said, "the need for this festival would no longer exist."

No comments: