Thursday, February 28, 2013

On the same page

The Associated Press (AP) published an article yesterday entitled "Japanese Disaster Films Highlight Victims' Stories" (HERE) by Yuri Kageyama in which two of my documentaries, "In the Grey Zone" (WEBSITE) and "A2" (WEBSITE), are featured.

To have my work included in a group of films made by award-winning directors such as Atsushi Funahashi and Lucy Walker is truly humbling.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to share my work with a larger audience.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"In the Grey Zone" to screen in Nepal

My documentary "In the Grey Zone" will screen at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival in Kathmandu this weekend.

"In the Grey Zone" (WEBSITE) was filmed in Fukushima in April of 2011, one month after the nuclear meltdown, as the local government was preparing to re-open schools just outside the 30 km radiation zone.

Where "In the Grey Zone" asks the question "what will happen to the children of Fukushima?", my new documentary, "A2" (WEBSITE), attempts to begin to answer that question. 

With all recent developments involving "A2" (HERE), as well as the upcoming 2nd anniversary of March 11, I am unable to attend the screening in Nepal, but I am very grateful to Purna Singh Baraily, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Film Center in Kathmandu (WEBSITE), for giving my film this opportunity.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My film is going international AND going to court?!

I am overwhelmed at the support I have received from people all over the world in the form of comments, e-mails and offers to help with my work documenting the current situation in Fukushima and particularly with my new documentary "A2" (WEBSITE).

Among some of the people helping me are Kna60 (CHANNEL), who translated the French subtitles for the "A2" trailer (below) along with some of my previous work (HERE), and "Miguel" Yasuyuki Hirota, who translated the Spanish and Portuguese versions (below).  Екатерина Коидэ translated the Russian version (below).

To have people want to volunteer their time to help is so humbling, and I am truly grateful.

As I was preparing the international versions earlier today, I was contacted by a lawyer who is representing a group of Fukushima children who have filed a law suit against the local government demanding their right to study in a safe environment.  The lawyer asked me for the full version of "A2" along with an official statement about my findings to be used as evidence in the trial.

Am I going to be subpenaed and required to testify?  What about the participants in the film?

Is the World Premier of "A2" going to be in a Japanese courthouse rather than an international film festival?!?!

***** UPDATED February 19, 2013 *****

I have spoken with the trial lawyer at great length and have shared with him my concerns, some of which are: 
  • It is one thing for me to open myself up to being called as a witness, but I do not want the participants in my documentary to be required to testify.
  • I am still in the middle of editing the film, so I will need to do a special "trial edit".
  • I am not willing to hand over the 50 hours or so of unedited footage.
The lawyer clarified for me how this kind of court case works in Japan (I'm not sure I even understand how this would all work in the US!) and exactly what it is that he's asking me to.

After careful consideration and receiving the blessing of each of the mothers who appear in the film, I have decided to allow my documentary, "A2", to be used as evidence in the case.  I have already submitted my written statement to the lawyer so that an official Japanese translation can be made, and I am working on the "trial edit" today.  My statement and documentary film will be filed as evidence on Thursday.

The lawyer has assured me that if at some point it becomes clear that I require legal representation, which is a very real possibility, that he will represent me.

However, it is my most sincere hope that the focus of this trial remains on that which is the most important part of this story: the children of Fukushima.
Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.

Ian Thomas Ash
February 19, 2013
Tokyo, Japan



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Through the looking glass: Fukushima mothers

Today I did something I have never done, something I said I would never do:  I showed the rough cut of my latest documentary ("A2" website HERE) to the mothers who appear in the film.

Of course I always show the finished film to the people appear who appear in my documentaries, but I never show it to them when it is still a work-in-progress.  I feel that showing someone the rough cut of a film implies that you are open to suggestions, feedback, criticism; and while I am certainly open to all of these things from my colleagues, I generally am not open to them from the films' subjects themselves.

Can you imagine the Pandora's Box that would be opened if every scene in which someone didn't like their hair or the fact that they had stuttered had to be defended?

But this time it was different.  I wanted to share with the mother's of Fukushima how I was editing, how I was treating their story.  They have trusted me with their innermost thoughts and feelings and have allowed me to interview and film their children.  I wanted them to see how I am telling their story.

I was nervous.  Really nervous.  What if they hated the film?  What if they felt like "A2" wasn't a true reflection of their story?

When I arrived, the mothers were gathered around a hot plate making octopus balls for lunch.  They were relaxed and didn't seem at all anxious about seeing the film.  How ironic that I was seemingly more nervous about seeing the film than they were!

After we shared a meal together, we watched "A2".  I wondered what exactly each of them was thinking, what they were feeling as they watched scene after scene of their own faces, their own words, their own children through my eyes, through my lens.

After the film was over one of them simply said, "this is our story".

They talked about the common threads in their experiences, even though some of them were meeting for the first time.  One of the mothers starting crying and shared that her eight-year-old daughter had come to her and said, "Mommy, you're always worried about us kids, but I want you to be healthy, too".

The discussion about the film itself quickly lead to other topics affecting their lives and their children.  Although some of them had just met, it would have appeared to an outsider that they had all been long-time friends.

The mothers exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses, talked about the best websites to get up-to-date information about radiation levels and private testing facilities, and were sharing the information in real time with their friends via social media.

Before I realized what was happening, the mothers had formed a team and had given it a name and were handing out roles.  It was amazing to watch, to witness the birth of a movement that is so much larger than any one of its members.  No longer individuals, the strength of this group is palpable.

Later, one of them quietly came over to me and said, "Thank you for bringing us together".  Choking back tears, I replied, "Thank you for trusting me with your story."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Versions Françaises

The French version of the trailer for my documentary "A2" has been uploaded by my colleague Kna60.
Le 3 Février 2013, Ian Thomas Ash (auteur entre autres du documentaire "En confinement") a publié cette bande-annonce de son futur documentaire, "A2".

Synopsis : De nombreux enfants de Fukushima n'ont jamais été évacués, suite à la fusion des cœurs des réacteurs après le 11 Mars 2011. Maintenant, le nombre d'enfants chez qui sont détectés des kystes ou nodules de la thyroïde augmente. Quelles vont être les conséquences pour leur avenir ?

More French versions of my documentaries translated by Kna60 can be found in the playlist "versions Françaises" on my YouTube Channel (HERE).

A very big "merci beaucoup" to Kna60 for translating the French versions and to all the French-speaking viewers!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

HUGE disappointment

My doc "A2" had been short-listed for inclusion in a major European documentary film festival, and I had just sensed through their communications that "A2" would be included in the competition.

Alas, it was not to be.  This e-mail came last night:
"Thank you very much for submitting your film A2 to the upcoming edition of (A SERIOUSLY MAJOR EUROPEAN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL).

The selection process this year has been very long and difficult. We received and watched more than 2500 films and in the last few weeks we preselected around 100 films that we kept in our short list until the end. Among them your film, that captured the attention of our whole selection committee. Unfortunately we regret to inform you that we decided not to include the film in our programme. At this stage of our selection process we have to make choices and for any film we take in our program, there is another film that we can not keep with us. "
The submission process to film festivals continues.  I wonder where in the world the premier of "A2" will be held. Stay tuned.
Thank you for all for your continued support and encouragement.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


I just uploaded the trailer for my new documentary, "A2" (link below).   I will be posting more information about the film here on this blog and on the film's website (HERE).

It is thanks to your support and encouragement that I have been able to make this film.  Thank you all so much.

The number of Fukushima children found to have thyroid cysts and nodules is increasing.  What will this mean for their future?

“A2” (予告編) 嚢胞としこりを持つ福島の子供達の数が増加してきている。このことが彼らの未来に対して意味するものは?

A 'new normal' for the children in Fukushima

In January, I received a call from a worried mother in Fukushima: she was bringing her children to a private clinic to have their thyroids examined for cysts and nodules.  She asked me if I would go with her.

Although her children had been found to have no thyroid cysts during the official examination overseen by the government,  she was wary of the results and wanted to get a second opinion.

Many parents in Fukushima have trouble believing the official test results due to inaccurate results and other discrepancies that they see as being part of an official coverup, as I documented in November 2012 (HERE).

I accompanied the mother and her children to the clinic and witnessed what is now the 'new normal' for the children in Fukushima who were never evacuated after the nuclear meltdown on March 11, 2011.


Recently, the number of children in Fukushima found to have thyroid cysts and nodules is increasing. 

How thyroid cysts and nodules will impact the children in the future, no one knows.


For the children of Fukushima thyroid tests are now just a part of life.