This will be my last blog from an airport this year. Just back from Jordan on Friday (STORY and PHOTOS HERE), on Sunday I traveled down to Mie Prefecture where the theatrical release of 'A2-B-C' (website ENGLISH/ 日本語) continued (more on that in a moment).
Back to Tokyo bright and early yesterday morning, I worked half day, ran some errands and then attended a dear friend's Christmas concert in the evening. It is now Tuesday afternoon, and I am on my way to America to visit family for Christmas. When I have shared with people I am going to America over Christmas they have almost always said, "Oh, you're going home for Christmas", to which I have replied, "No, I'm going to America for Christmas, and then I'm coming back home to Japan."
There is nothing like visiting my family's home for Christmas, and I am so grateful to be able to do so this year. But it is just that: my family's home, not mine.
Meeting many nuclear refugees living in temporary housing over the past three years has taught me so many things: you can make home where you are, despite the often difficult circumstances. And more than a physical house, what is important in life is Health, Family, Love.
'A2-B-C' was screened over the weekend at the Shintomiza Theatre (INFO), with more than 80 years of history as a cinema and decades more as a Kubuki theatre, in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Roughly three hours by train from Tokyo, I took a Shinkansen bullet train to Nagoya and then transferred to the "kintetsu" rail, with its old-fashioned cars that arrive at the gorgeous pre-war station building in Ise.
With an hour and a half on the train from Nagoya to Ise, I opened up my computer, plugged in my earphones, put on some music and started catching up on some of the dozens of e-mails I had fallen behind on while in Jordan. At some point, the junior high school student sitting next to me got off the train, and I moved over from the aisle to the window seat where I feel there is more privacy. A few stops later, a man boarded the crowded train and sat next down next to me. Immersed in my work, I didn't pay much attention to him until I felt him staring at me. Assuming that he just wasn't used to seeing "foreigners", I ignored him until he blatantly started staring at my computer screen. Just as I started to lift my head to give him a look that I hoped would discourage him from staring at me any longer, he said something that sounded an awful lot like "Are you Ian?" Taking out my earphones, I then clearly heard him repeat his question, this time adding my full name. "Are you Ian Thomas Ash?".
Replying yes, he put his hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out the ticket stub for the previous night's screening of my film. "My name is Kuno," he said, reaching out to shake my hand as he continued, "Thank you for your film."
It turns out Mr. Kuno is an organizing member of the citizen's groups that asked the Shintomiza Theatre to program "A2-B-C". In addition to helping the theatre with advertising, they also volunteered during the screening. Arriving at the theatre, several of the volunteers where out front wearing bright orange jackets and directing the cars in the parking lot. The screening was sold out, and Mr. Mizuno, the theatre owner, told me they had set up folding chairs in the back to accommodate more people. Later, after the screening, Mr. Mizuno told me that this was the best weekend for the theatre all year.
Just before entering the cinema for the post-screening discussion, I was surprised to find out that tickets to hear me speak were sold separately from the film ticket (!) which to my knowledge has never been done before. I always feel a great responsibility to fairly and accurately represent the people who appear in my film when I speak, but now I suddenly felt a strange responsibility to give over a hundred paying customers their money's worth (!).
Despite slight jet-lag (or perhaps it was just simply being tired), the discussion went smoothly and lasted over an hour. Although it generally takes me a few minutes to warm up, once I get going, my adrenaline really starts pumping and I can get quite excited.
When the topic of the secrecy law came up (INFO), by some strange coincidence, the mic I was using suddenly started crackling and then went completely dead. Dropping the mic, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "IF THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE ME QUIET, THEY WILL ONLY SUCCEED IN MAKING ME LOUDER!!!" to great laughter and applause.
Thank you all so very much for your support and encouragement. This has indeed been the most incredible year for which I am so very grateful.