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: