I marked yesterday, March 11, 2017, the six-year anniversary of the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Edmonton. The event, sponsored by the Prince Takamado Japan Centre, University of Alberta and the Centre for Japanese Research, University of British Columbia (INFO), included a screening of the work-in-progress of my new documentary about the Fukushima nuclear disaster which I also screened earlier in the week at an event at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (INFO).
Attended both by students and professors from departments as diverse as Japanese studies and Film-making, the post-screening Q&A allowed me to hear how this work-in-progress is being seen and understood an opportunity for which I am extremely grateful. This was the second time for me to screen some of my Fukushima-based work in Edmonton, after having the honour of screening my films "A2-B-C" and "In the Grey Zone" during the Global Visions Film Festival (now called Northwestfest) three years ago (STORY).
Each year on the anniversary of March 11, I have reflected on some of the experiences I had in the days and months after the disaster framed around the short documentaries I filmed during that period. I have re-posted below two entries I would like to share again this year.
Thank you all for your continued support and for keeping those people still affected by these terrible events six years later in your thoughts and prayers.
Ian Thomas Ash
originally posted March 4, 2013 (LINK)
On March 13, 2011, two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I described the situation in Tokyo in an open letter to my friends and family (HERE). I posted it along with a short documentary about panic buying and the following explanation:
I simply couldn’t stay inside today and just watch the news coverage, so I took my brother-in-law’s advice: I took my camera outside to see what was happening in my neighbourhood. The result is (this) ten-minute video about “panic buying”.
I could never have imagined at the time that this would be the first in a series of short documentaries that would eventually evolve into two feature films documenting the nuclear crises in Fukushima spanning the following two years.
As the two-year anniversary of the March 11 disaster approaches, I find myself reflecting on how it all unfolded. As part of this reflection, I have re-visited my early documentaries and edited them together to see how my journey began.
originally posted March 12, 2015 (LINK)
Documenting 3.11: the first ten days
My journey documenting 3.11 started with the first entry I wrote (HERE) and a short documentary I filmed about panic buying in Tokyo a couple of days after the disaster (story HERE). This was followed by several short documentaries posted in quick succession. A compilation VIDEO of all of these early short documentaries that I edited together and posted for the 2nd anniversary... and the accompanying guest blog published by Discovery News is HERE. The full collection of my early short documentaries about the disaster is HERE and all of the guest blogs I wrote for Discovery News can be found HERE.
Documenting 3.11: One month later
After reading a newspaper article describing the government's plan to re-open schools near the zone 20-30km from the nuclear power plant just one month after the nuclear disaster, I traveled to Fukushima with friend and cameraman Colin O'Neill. We documented the children living there, and soon after we returned to Tokyo we posted a four part "making of" documentary, beginning with this Video (part 1 below, all 4 parts HERE):
This would become my first feature documentary about the disaster, 'In the Grey Zone' (TRAILER below and website HERE):
Documenting 3.11: Six months later
Six months later while editing 'In the Grey Zone' in Japan with friend and colleague Ed Ison, Colin and I traveled back to Minamisoma City in Fukushima where we filmed an update that we posted in three parts (Part 1 story HERE and VIDEO below, stories about Part 2 HERE and Part 3 HERE, with all three VIDEOS HERE).
Documenting 3.11: One year later
For the 1st Anniversary of the disaster in March 2012, I filmed a three-part update about the children living in the 20-30km zone which I posted to my channel (Story Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE and Part 3 HERE, VIDEO part one below, all three videos HERE):
Documenting 3.11: Fifteen months later
A couple of months later, I returned to Fukushima, this time with friend and cameraman Koji Fujita, and in the summer of 2012, I posted two short films about the continuing nuclear disaster. The first of these was 'Nuclear Refugees: the people of Iitate Village, one year later' (story HERE and VIDEO below):
The second short documentary I posted that summer was 'In Containment', a five-part series that documented some shocking revelations about life in Fukushima after the disaster and found me entering the no-go zone for the first time (VIDEO for Part 3 below and those for Parts 2, 3 and 4 HERE). During the filming and editing of 'In Containment', I realized I was uncovering a story much larger story than just an "update", and that I had in fact started making a new film. Parts 1 and 5 would eventually form the beginning of my second feature documentary about the Fukushima disaster, 'A2-B-C' (website ENGLISH/ 日本語).
I continued filming throughout the autumn of 2012 and early winter of 2013, focusing on the children and families living in Fukushima. Posting the trailer in February of 2013 (TRAILER below), it was serendipitous that the last day of editing I did on the film before handing it off to Ed and Colin back in the UK to finish the post-production was on March 11, 2013, the second anniversary of the disaster (STORY).
Documenting 3.11: The story continues
In between the continuing international and domestic screenings of 'A2-B-C', I am currently filming the follow-up to 'A2-B-C', in what will be the third film in my series about Fukushima. Thank you all so very much for your continued support and encouragement.