Monday, April 28, 2014

Permission to land

Preparations for the cinema release of 'A2-B-C' in Japan (INFO) are progressing, including the recent launch of the Japanese-language website (HERE 日本語).  So far, it has been confirmed that the film will be screening in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, and other cities are expected to follow (INFO 日本語).  

The film will open in Tokyo on May 10 and screen twice a day for three weeks.  Following each screening on the opening day, I am scheduled to be present for a Q&A, during which I plan to share a special short video (that I am currently editing) and welcome some important guests.  

As is customary during the theatrical run (which will be three weeks in Tokyo) special post-screening events are being planned by the film's distributor.  Typically, this would take the form of a Q&A with the director (in this case, me).  However, I have thrown a spanner into the works for my distributor: on May 11th, the day after my film opens in Tokyo, I am leaving the country.

Despite how this may sound, it has nothing to do with the recently passed Secrecy Law (INFO); I will be attending screenings of the film in Canada and Brazil.

On May 12th, both of my films about Fukushima, 'In the Grey Zone' (2012) WEBSITE and 'A2-B-C' (2013) WEBSITE will screen in Global Visions Festival in Edmonton, Canada.  Not only will this be the Canadian Premier for both films, but it will also be the first time for both of the films to be screened together.  

Festival director Guy Lavallee will be screening the two films in reverse-chronological order: 'A2-B-C' documents what is happening now, while 'In the Grey Zone', which was filmed just one month after the meltdown, will reveal how the current problems began.  I am extremely honoured the screenings will be presented in cooperation with the University of Alberta's Department of East Asian Studies.

'A2-B-C' Global Visions festival page HERE.
'In the Grey Zone' Global Visions festival page HERE

After the festivals ends, I will fly from Edmonton to Brazil, where 'A2-B-C' is screening in the Uranium Film Festival (WEBSITE) in Rio de Janeiro on the 18th.  It is an honour to be screening in this important festival, and I am also excited to be visiting South America for the first time!  

Meanwhile, back at the theatre in Tokyo, my distributor is planning some very special post-screening discussions with distinguished guests from the world of Japanese film.  And who knows, with the miracle of modern technology, I may even Skype in from Rio to say hello and answer a few questions.

Thank you all so very much for your continued support and encouragement.  I am so very grateful for the continuing opportunities to learn and experience through this film that your help has made possible.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It has been a long time in the making.  I went from alluding to it, to talking about it outright (including in this VIDEO).  There were starts.  Then there were stops.  And sometimes I found it hard to contain my disappointment (like HERE).

But now it looks like my idea to "reverse-import" the film (explained HERE) is finally paying off: my documentary 'A2-B-C' is being released in theatres in Japan (cinema information HERE ポレポレ東中野).  Of course, part of me will be holding my breath until it actually opens on May 10...

Today, my distributor held a preview screening for mass media ahead of the cinema release, and it was a huge honour to have Radio DJ and broadcaster Peter Barakan lead the post-screening discussion.  Peter himself was in the news earlier this year when he spoke out about how the perceived crackdown on the media post-3.11 affected him personally (HERE), and today his observations and questions helped to contextualize the film for the media in attendance.

As I write this now, I wonder: to the audience of Japanese journalists, did it seem strange having two white people, one a broadcaster and one a filmmaker, speaking in Japanese to each other about the difficulty of getting the media to feature stories about the problems depicted in my film?  I must say, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's papers...

(April 15 at 23:42  Just minutes after I published this blog, I was alerted to an article that was already online about today's press screening.  In this day and age, I should have known I wasn't going to have to wait until "tomorrow's papers".  Article HERE.)

The news of 'A2-B-C's upcoming cinema release was first announced on March 14 on, the biggest website in Japan for film-related news (HERE 日本語).  My distributor then followed this up with the launch of a new Japanese website for the film (HERE 日本語のウェブサイト) to compliment the English website (HERE).  Together with new graphics, the Japanese website also features a new bilingual theatrical trailer, which is currently playing in the cinema:

The startling new graphics also feature prominently on the posters for the film (front and back BELOW) and depict a yellow map of Japan with the prefecture of Fukushima coloured grey and concentric circles in the 'C' of 'A2-B-C' representing the radiation zones around a solid dot where the damaged nuclear reactors lie.  It is, quite frankly, a shocking image to me and a concept I never would have come up with on my own.  And it solidifies for me what I have said many times before (including HERE), that filmmaking is all about team work.

If the Tokyo box office does well, the distributor will be bringing the film to cinemas across the country.  And that is my hope, for the voices of the mothers in the film to be heard across Japan; for just as the graphics that were drawn by the artist who was inspired by the film show: this is not a problem that is only affecting Fukushima.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

So nice to come home to

I'm home.

After another whirlwind trip of traveling with 'A2-B-C' (WEBSITE), I am back home in Japan in time to enjoy the last few days of the cherry blossom season.

Having just arrived in the US a few days earlier, on the morning of March 26th my alarm went of at 4AM and by 6, I was taking part in a post-screening Q&A with an audience in Tokyo via Skype from my father's home.  The screening, arranged by Tokyo University of the Arts Professor Mouri Yoshitaka, took place as part of a symposium held at Waseda University (INFO in Japanese/日本語) and was joined by panelists Professors Ito Maomoru and Iwabuchi Koichi.  

I seldom think about what it is that I do, and fielding questions and receiving feedback from these critical powerhouses was a challenge and an honour for which I am extremely grateful.

That evening, 'A2-B-C' was screened as part of the United Nations Association Film Festival's strand in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital (INFO).  Although I was not able to be there in person, producer Amanda Freeland (AKA: my sister!), who lives just outside D.C., was in attendance to hand out materials and contact information and was accompanied by a contingent of our friends and family.

Photo from Amanda's Facebook Page
Back in Japan on the 29th, a group of high school seniors that had requested to show 'A2-B-C' at a graduation event screened the film outside Tokyo.  Their report (in Japanese) about the screening has been posted to the 'A2-B-C' Facebook page (HERE/日本語) and one of the photos they sent is below.

The name of the student's Fukushima-themed event: "I want to go home.  But I can not go home."

On March 30, I traveled to New York City where a screening of 'A2-B-C' was held.  Having been born in Upstate New York, this was a kind of homecoming for me, and I was thrilled to have both long time friends and family in attendance.  I was honoured to take part in the post-screening discussion, led by organizer Tonohira Yuko, which covered a vast number of topics and concerns.

ADDED April 7:  I am very humbled by THIS account (in English) of the screening in NYC by Hamada Hiroyuki.

The next day, I was on the road again, this time to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvnaia, where I was invited to screen 'A2-B-C' as part of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute film series "Japan at the Brink: Precarity of Youth in Films of Disaster and Dystopia" (INFO).  Dr. Tienfong Ho, adjunct professor of art history at Tyler School of Art, had learned of the film from Dr. Fujiki Hideaki, professor of film at Nagoya University in Japan, to whom I am so grateful for much support and encouragement since meeting last year (STORY).

The screening of 'A2-B-C' was the final film in this student-curated series, and I was extremely honoured to be the only director invited to attend the screening and culminating lecture "Audience and Action: Recent Citizen Activism and Cinema" given by Dr. Fujiki.

My cousin, who lives nearby in Delaware and whom I had not seen in years, surprised me by attending the screening.  After the screening, we shared stories of family adventures (and mis-adventures!) over adult beverages, and it was a welcome relief to shed my public persona for a few hours.
The Wyndham Alumnae House, where I stayed while at Bryn Mawr
Preparing for the post-screening discussion with Prof. Fujiki in the Wyndham House's "Blue Room"
At the Bryn Mawr Film Institute
The Bryn Mawr Film Institute at night
Getting in just a few hours of sleep after the closing dinner before a taxi picked me up at 3:30AM to take me to the airport (!), I was back in Japan before I knew it.  The cold, rainy Tokyo I had left just ten days earlier was now warmer and at the peak of the Cherry Blossom season.

So nice to come home to: