Friday, December 31, 2021

"Ushiku" included in Third Window Films' Top 10 Japanese films of 2021

Extremely honoured for "Ushiku" to be included in Third Window Films' Top 10 Japanese films of 2021 (LINK)!! Thank you, Third Window Films, for your support!

Monday, December 27, 2021

"Ushiku" to be released in Japanese cinemas in 2022!


BREAKING: the distributor 太秦株式会社 (Uzamasa) has just announced "Ushiku" will open in Tokyo’s イメージフォーラム (Image Forum) theatre on February 26 with a nationwide theatrical release to follow! 

I am in awe of the courage of the participants in the film who continue to speak out and share about their experiences in Japanese immigration detention. And I am extremely grateful to our team and supporters.




Friday, December 24, 2021

"Ushiku" selected as of the Japan Foundation's "Japanese Movies to Represent 2021"

The Japan Foundation's "The Japanese Film Festival (JFF)", a project to promote Japanese film around the world, has just released it's annual list "Japanese Movies to Represent 2021, Selected by 7 Experts from Around the World". I am extremely honoured for "Ushiku" to be selected by Nippon Connection Japanese Film Festival's Marion Klomfass where she wrote "One of the most important films this year for me was Ushiku by Thomas Ash".



JFF(Japanese Film Festival)は、国際交流基金が実施する海外への日本映画促進事業です。


Friday, December 17, 2021

"Ushiku" voted one of the 20 Best Japanese Movies of 2021

I am extremely honoured my new documentary "Ushiku" has been included in Asian Movie Pulse's annual lists of the "Best Japanese Movies" and "Best Asian Films"!

The 20 Best Japanese Movies of 2021 list can be found here:

The 25 Best Asian Films of 2021list can be found here:

Thursday, November 25, 2021

UK, France, Singapore and Germany screeings of "Ushiku"


Upcoming "Ushiku" (WEBSITE) screenings include the UK's Global Health Film Nov 28, the French Premier in Festival Fenêtressur le Japon, and the Southeast Asia Premier in Singapore International Film Festival - SGIFF Dec. 4! And the film can be seen online all this month in Germany's Nippon Connection - Japanese Film Festival Replay!


UK (Online) Global Health FF (Nov 28):
France (Live) Festival Fenêtressur le Japon (Dec 3):
Singapore (Live)Singapore Int FF (Dec 4):
Germany (Online) Nippon Connection Replay (until end of November):

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Three more film festival screenings of "Ushiku" announced!


More "Ushiku" screenings announced! Guam Premier in the Guam International Film Festival Nov 12, Global Health Film (UK) Nov 28, and Southeast Asia Premier in the Singapore International Film Festival Dec. 4!

Guam Int FF (Nov 12):
Global Health FF (Nov 28):
Singapore Int FF (Dec 4):



Wednesday, October 06, 2021

"Ushiku" receives Audience Award in Holland


I am extremely honoured "Ushiku" has received the Audience Award at the 2021 CAMERA JAPAN Festival in Holland! Thank you all of your support of the participants in the film. The festival announcement is below.
2021年10月、オランダ・ロッテルダム/アムステルダムで開催された日本映画祭カメラジャパンにて「観客賞」 受賞されました。
( カメラジャパンから受賞のメッセージが届きました。下記)
The 2021 edition of CAMERA JAPAN has now wrapped up. A big arigato for all your support!
Today we are pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Audience Award. After counting all the votes in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Ushiku stays at the top of the rankings. Congratulations to director Thomas ASH.

To make this important documentary, ASH used a hidden camera to interview inmates at the Ushiku immigration centre near Tokyo about their treatment and Japan’s uncompromising refugee policy on the eve of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We are particularly pleased to find that CAMERA JAPAN audiences enjoy and appreciate the variety of films our programmers pick out for the festival.
応援してくださった皆様のご支援に対し、”A BIG ARIGATOU (アリガトウ)”、大きな感謝を申し上げます。





Friday, September 24, 2021

Four more "Ushiku" Premiers confirmed

Four more premiers for "Ushiku" have just been confirmed.

Following screenings today (Fri, Sept 24) and tomorrow (Sat, Sept 25) in Rotterdam's CAMERA JAPAN Festival, "Ushiku" will hold the following premiers:

Austria Premier on Oct 8 in Vienna's Japannual

Japan Premier Oct 9 in Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, where the film was described as "This is work of watchdog journalism that sounds the alarm about state power run amok."

Munich Premier Oct 11 in Underdox - Festival für Dokument und Experiment

UK Premier Oct 24 in London East Asia Film Festival, where the film was described as “A powerful and disturbing, but essential record of human rights abuses.”

And there are more exciting announcements coming soon! Thank you all for your support!


Thursday, September 16, 2021

"Ushiku" awarded Top Prize in Asian Category at Festival in Korea

The 13th DMZ Docs took place from September 9th – 16th, 2021 in Goyang City and Paju City, Gyeongii Province, Korea. DMZ Docs is one of leading international documentary film festivals in Asia and aims to provide opportunities for Korean and Asian documentary filmmakers by promoting ‘peace’, ‘life’ and ‘communication’.

At the closing ceremony, held on September 16, Ushiku received the Asian Perspective Award, the top prize in the Asian Competition. When presenting the award, Director Lee Soojung, a judge on the Asian Perspective panel, said:

The awarded documentary, “Ushiku,” is a documentary that uncovers the confined secret lives of refugees in Japan that face harsh reality amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics, and the Japanese government’s uncompromising refugee deportations.

The documentary uses the limitations in filming as its cinematic medium, drawing the audience into reality and making it an issue for all. Through this, the film demonstrates the power of documentaries.

DMZ Docs HP:
Link to full closing ceremony:

I was extremely honoured to receive this same award in 2015 for my film "-1287" (STORY). 

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Korean Premier of "Ushiku" to begin

「牛久」韓国上映。Friends in Korea: "Ushiku" (homepage) screening from TOMORROW (Sept 9) in DMZ 국제다큐멘터리영화제 DMZ International Documentary Film Festival

This year, the festival is hybrid: streaming Sept 9-16 and in-person Sept 12 at 11:00 and Sept 15 at 16:30. INFO

WATCH a special message from one of the film's participants:

「牛久」アメリカ上映。Friends in the USA: "Ushiku" streaming UNTIL TOMORROW (Sept 9) in I Will Tell International Film Festival


Saturday, September 04, 2021

Dutch Premier of "Ushiku" announced

Announcing the Dutch Premier of "Ushiku" in CAMERA JAPAN Festival on Sept 24 and 25.

Upcoming screenings also include:

Belgium in Electric Shadows on Sept 5.

USA in I Will Tell International Film Festival ONLINE until Sept 9.

Korea in DMZ 국제다큐멘터리영화제 DMZ International Documentary Film Festival on Sept 12 and 15.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Post-screening Q&A held online in the I Will Tell FF

TONIGHT (Sept 1) at 7PM EDT in the US, a live ONLINE screening of "Ushiku" took place in the I Will Tell International Film Festival.  Peter, one of the participants in the film, and I joined the post-screening Q&A which was led by festival director Jenny Lee. INFO

"Ushiku" will be screening ONLINE in the US until Sept 9.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Instagram Live Q&A held with Japan Cuts in NYC

Today (Aug 31) a live Q&A about "Ushiku" was held at 8PM EDT in the US (9AM Sept 1 JST in Tokyo) on Instagram with Louis, one of the film's protagonists, and Professor Ai Kihira-Hunt, Associate Professor at The University of Tokyo. WATCH:

"Ushiku" is screening ONLINE in the US in Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film until Sept 2:


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

"Ushiku" to screen in Belgium

Honoured to announce that "Ushiku" will be screening in the Electric Shadows Asian Film Festival in Antwerp, Belgium on September 5 ( 

Meanwhile, On Demand screenings continue in the US until September 2 in the Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film ( where the film was recently named one of Asian Film Festivals' eight films you shouldn't miss ( 
"Ushiku" can also be screened On Demand in the US from August 30-September 9 in the I Will Tell International Film Festival (, and in Korea from September 9-16 in DMZ 국제다큐멘터리영화제 DMZ International Documentary Film Festival ( 
For more about the issues the film documents, we are rolling out our Impact Campaign on the film's website and Instagram page.
Thank you for your support.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

"Ushiku" introduced on NHK World program J-FLICKS

Extremely honoured by the coverage of my documentary Ushiku in the newest episode of the NHK WORLD-JAPAN program J-FLICKS. 

I was grateful that an entire 6-minute segment was dedicated to the film, and was particularly humbled by the following exchange:
Host Sarah Macdonald: "I've said it before, I'll say it again: Nippon Connection - Japanese Film Festival has a special place in my heart. Now of the films screened this year, I think Ushiku was particularly impactful, a really harrowing film. What did you think of it?"
Filmmaker and commentator John Williams: "I think Ushiku is probably one of the most important films that's been made in Japan in the last decade or so. And... I would like everybody to see this. It seems that people just have no idea what's going on in these detention centers in Japan and the way that asylum seekers and refugees are treated here in a really appalling and inhumane way. "
And I was utterly floored that NHK World (the international broadcast service of NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster) aired so much of the footage I filmed and obtained from inside the detention center in Ushiku. Using tax dollars to expose the government's systematic violation of human rights is exactly what a public broadcaster should be doing.
The episode aired four times on August 21st and 22nd and can now be viewed for FREE until September 4 On Demand here: The segment about Ushiku begins 28 minutes into the broadcast. 
Our mission in making this film and the accompanying Impact Campaign is to create widespread domestic and international awareness of the immigration injustices occurring in Japan and to help works toward an immigration system in Japan where all refugees are recognised through a just, timely, and transparent process.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

"Ushiku" to screen online in the US in Japan Cuts FF

映画「牛久」アメリカ上映!Friends in the US: "Ushiku" will be screening ONLINE in the Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film starting TOMORROW (Aug 20) through Sept 2.

From the JAPAN CUTS catalog:

"(The film) utilizes hidden cameras to interview detainees at Ushiku beginning in late 2019, who detail inadequate medical treatment, failure to recognize trans peoples’ gender identity, physical abuse and hunger strikes, all as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic rages in the background, and Japan promotes a surface-level image of acceptance and inclusion in the name of the Tokyo Olympics."
For more about Japanese Immigration facilities:
The family of Wishma, a Sri Lankan woman who died in March following mistreatment at a Japanese immigration center, said she was "treated like a dog" after the government disclosed Thursday security camera footage of her final days.
Wishma is the 17th detainee to die at a Japanese immigration center since 2007, according to the Immigration Services Agency.
映画「牛久」アメリカ上映!アメリカの友人へ。「牛久」がジャパン・ソサエティーの「JAPAN CUTS」でオンライン上映されます。明日(8月20日)から9月2日まで、ジャパン・ソサエティーの「JAPAN CUTS:Festival of New Japanese Film」でオンライン上映されます。
JAPAN CUTSのカタログより。

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

"Ushiku" to sceen in two upcoming festivals in the US and one in Korea

I am honoured to announce screenings of my documentary "Ushiku" in Japan Society Film's Japan Cuts FF (USA, Aug 20-Sept 2), I Will Tell International Film Festival (USA, Aug 30-Sept 9) & DMZ 국제다큐멘터리영화제 DMZ International Documentary Film Festival (Korea, Sept 9-16).

I will be posting more information, including links to find out more about how to view the film in the online festivals, soon.
Find out how asylum seekers to Japan are treated when the world is NOT watching the Olympics and the Paralympic Games with their Refugee Olympic Teams.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Philosopher Hiroki Azuma publishes essay about "Ushiku"

Extremely honoured Japanese cultural critic, novelist, and philosopher Hiroki Azuma wrote about my documentary "Ushiku" in his essay published in the magazine AERA.
東浩紀「人権侵害が指摘されてきた全件収容主義からの決別を」──『AERA 2021年6月28日』巻頭エッセイ「eyes」掲載
『AERA 2021年6月28日』の記事は、「人権侵害が指摘されてきた全件収容主義からの決別を」です。

 The essay can be found here:

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

"Sending Off" receives award for Best Documentary in Italy


「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」はイタリアに行われるLBLFF映画祭にてドキュメンタリーグランプリ受賞。

It is extremely poignant that in the midst of my father passing away last week, my documentary about death and dying「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」was awarded the prize for Best Documentary in The Life Beyond Life Film Festival, an event dedicated to films about terminal care, grief, and transition.
Jury Statement:
"The Documentary Jury awarded the Best Documentary of the LBLFF, First Edition to 'Sending Off' based on the incredible authenticity of the story, the cleanliness of the visual choices, and the dignified vision of Death!”
Although we were not able to attend the closing ceremony which was held in person in Italy, Dr. Kaoru Konta and I recorded our greetings and gratitude to be played at the event.

Friday, June 11, 2021

"Ushiku" featured in Japan Times

Honoured and grateful that “Ushiku” was featured on the entire back page of today’s The Japan Times.

“I was really compelled to film because I was a witness to human rights abuses. I literally believed it was possible (the detainees) were going to die. And I realized that just volunteering wasn’t going to work. It was going to help the people there, but not change the situation.”
To effect change, Ash believed that “it was imperative to collect what I believed would be evidence; the goal wasn’t just to make a film.” One powerful piece of that evidence is video footage, taken inside the Ushiku facility, of guards piling on a vocally protesting detainee with postures and attitudes reminiscent of George Floyd’s murder. The detainee, known only as Deniz, even says “I can’t breathe, you’re choking me” at one point, though he survives and becomes one of Ash’s interviewees.
In March, the death of a Sri Lankan woman at an immigration facility in Nagoya elicited widespread condemnation. Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali had spent months fruitlessly complaining to staff of ill health, and public criticism increased when it was revealed that the facility had refused her repeated requests for outside hospital treatment — while releasing dozens of other detainees due to coronavirus infection concerns.
Soon after her death, the government and the ruling coalition dropped plans to amend the nation’s immigration law to make it even stricter, including a proposal to criminally prosecute asylum seekers who do not comply with deportation orders.
But as Thomas Ash shows in his new documentary “Ushiku,” the conditions endured by detainees in Japan’s 17 immigration centers under the current law are bad enough, driving many to go on hunger strikes or attempt suicide — with some dying in the process.
Read the FULL article here:

Monday, June 07, 2021

"Ushiku" awarded in Germany

“Ushiku” has been awarded the Nippon Docs Award in the 2021 Nippon Connection Japanese Film Festival in Frankfurt, Germany! Thank you all so very much for your support. We will continue to work hard to share the voices of the courageous participants in the film with people in Japan and around the world.
Per audience vote, the Nippon Docs Award went to the documentary Ushiku by Thomas Ash, dealing with a current, highly controversial political issue. The film accuses human rights violations in the eponymous immigration center near Tokyo, as well as Japan’s current immigration policies. The award was given out for the second time this year.
Official Press Release: 
VIDEO of Award Ceremony:


Friday, May 28, 2021

1,600 viewers join preview of "Ushiku"

It was humbling to have 1,600 viewers join us online for the preview screening of "Ushiku" last evening. And I continue to be in awe of the courageousness of the participants who choose to speak out about their treatment inside of immigration detention at great risk. Two of the participants joined us for the screening last evening, and I look forward to more screenings where audiences can hear directly from more of the film's participants. 

The World Premier of "Ushiku" will take place from June 1-6 in the Nippon Connection - Japanese Film Festival which will be held online due to the pandemic.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

"Ushiku" Press Conference held at The Foreign Correspondents' Club Of Japan

A Press Conference about my new documentary "Ushiku" was held today at the The Foreign Correspondents' Club Of Japan: Human Rights Abuses In Japan's Detention Centers



Tuesday, May 11, 2021

"Ushiku" trailer released


Seeking asylum in Japan, detainees at the infamous Ushiku immigration centre speak out in secretly recorded interviews.

an injustice of Olympic proportion