Sunday, February 15, 2015

Choosing the Edge

As the 4th anniversary of the March 11th disaster approaches, screenings of my documentary 'A2-B-C' continue.  On Thursday morning in Japan (Wednesday evening in the US), I joined the screening of the film held during the 2015 Global Film Festival held at William and Mary College, Virginia, USA (INFO).  This year's theme was "Film and Renewal" (INFO).

Photo by friend and filmmaker Adrian Storey (WEBSITE)
On Thursday and Friday, the final classes for the course I am teaching at the University of Tokyo were held (INFO).  Part theory and part filmmaking, the students' final film projects were screened at a mini film festival on Friday evening before their peers and a panel of three international film and media specialists.  I was extremely proud of the students' achievements and grateful for all that I learned through the opportunity to teach on this course.

The Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo
I brought my students' final papers with me to the airport on Saturday morning so that I could read them on the plane as I was off again for more screenings, this time in Shimane Prefecture.  'A2-B-C' was screened in two cities, Ota and Hamada.

After the first screening in Ota, I joined filmmaker and event host, Mr. Hanada, who has also filmed extensively in Fukushima, on stage for a discussion about our work and a Q&A with the audience.  I have written here many times before about how I really prefer to be close to the audience rather than onstage, and as soon as we sat down I knew it was not going to be a good discussion if we remained there.  Asking Mr. Hanada if we could join the audience, I headed for the stairs.  Perhaps both he and the audience thought I was going to remain at the base of the stage, but I there was a perfect place to stand right, an aisle in front of the first row where there were people sitting, and so there was some nervous laughter when I stood so close to the audience.

It turned out to be one of the best Q&A's I have done in Japan.

Moving on to the city of Hamada, the screening was followed by a panel discussion led by Mr. Hamada with Dr. Kanda, from the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at Shimane University, and Ms. Kajitani, who evacuated to Shimane with her children following the nuclear disaster.

Although the discussion was extremely interesting and informative, it was also slightly staid, and when it came time for the Q&A, I jumped up from my chair and made a beeline for the edge of the stage.  In this life when I am given the choice of the comfort and relative safety of an office chair or a cold, hard edge, I always seem to be choosing the edge...

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