[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
[ Cast ]
[ Staff ]
• Cinematography: FUNAHASHI Atsushi
• Cinematography: YAMAZAKI Yutaka
• Music: SUZUKI Haruyuki
• Theme Song: SAKAMOTO Ryuichi
[ Production Company ]
Documentary Japan, BIG RIVER FILMS
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Release Date: November 15, 2014
Running Time: 114 min
Screening Format: HDCAM,Blu-ray, DVD
Screening Format with Subtitles
・English (HDCAM, Blu-ray, DVD)
[ Story ]
A sequel to Nuclear Nation, which chronicled the town of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture that was forcibly evacuated due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The first episode focused on the nine months following the evacuation of 1400 townspeople to the defunct Kisai High School in Kazo city, Saitama Prefecture, and this second episode documents the subsequent three years.
After the mayor is forced to resign an election is held at the high school shelter. Izawa Shiro is elected, and he relocates Futaba Town Hall back to Iwaki City, Fukushima. However, problems arising from the nuclear accident cast a growing shadow over the town, such as its designation as a “difficultto-return zone,” and a plan to build an interim storage facility for radioactive waste there.
[ Official Site ]
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
• 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, Forum
• 2015 Cinema du Reel – International Documentary Film Festival, Competition
After the first documentary, Nuclear Nation, released in Japanese theaters in 2011, Funahashi Atsushi with his work continues to follow the fate of the small community of the town of Futaba, one of the areas closest to the Fukushima reactor number 2 hit by the earthquake and from the tsunami on March 11, 2011. His camera follows in particular the daily life of the small community, forced to live in a school in the prefecture of Saitama and then in prefabricated buildings in Fukushima. The film opens with the abandonment of its position by the mayor of Futaba who had been one of the protagonists of the first work and therefore serves as a junction for the remaining part of the work where the director’s focus shifts to the difficulties of the small community in find a sort of normality and to resume daily life.
It should be noted a certain care in the quality of the images, especially those that show us the landscape devastated by the tsunami and the earthquake, often accompanied by the beautiful music written for the occasion by Sakamoto Ryuichi. These often function as bearings that are interposed between the various voices of the inhabitants of Futaba. Funahashi’s approach is quite mainstream and almost television-based, although many will disagree with this definition, fitting fairly fast and frequent use of cut even when talking a single person.
The only exception, if you can call it, in the rhythm of the documentary is represented by the use of vintage photographs when the film focuses on reasoning, through the mouths of some elderly inhabitants of Futaba, on the historical reasons that led to the construction of the central Fukushima and how the socio-economic situation after the Second World War was to say the least dramatic, with almost all the land owned by large companies, the remains of the ancient zaibatsu, and misery everywhere. An elderly woman, while condemning the negligence of the central state after the Fukushima disaster, recalls how the advent of nuclear power was hailed by everyone as a real boon from heaven.
Forty years, since the plant was built, until 2011 that have been lived in moderate wealth by most of the inhabitants of the area. An elderly master of a coffee remembers how his club began to gain more and more thanks to the nuclear bubble. Just these scenes that offer us the paradox, declared almost whispered by the protagonists, of how the advent of nuclear power was synonymous with prosperity, are the best part of the film after denouncing, rightly, the huge faults of Tepco and the Japanese state about of the madness of nuclear power. This historical analysis suggests to us how the inhabitants of the areas were according to some cheated and almost forced to accept nuclear power, but according to others somehow enchanted by the pact with the devil in the mid-sixties.
From pure investigative journalism it is then the part in which we see a meeting between all the Japanese mayors of the countries where nuclear power plants are located. Almost everyone agrees that the media is throwing mud on an energy that is still safe and that the power plants, most of which are currently still inactive, should be put back into operation. Words that are all the more appalling when we understand how the concerns and thoughts of these mayors are economic concerns. Interrupting the flow of money generated by these plants would impoverish the communities, according to a thought that does not see alternative paths and projects and looks only today.
Another advantage of this Nuclear Nation 2 is to know how to show the pain and difficulties of these people in living together in reception centers first and then in emergency prefabs. The disorientation and loss of one’s roots as a result of moving away from one’s own neighborhood and one’s own homes comes to the surface when the inhabitants are allowed to return for a few hours to their devastated and deserted houses within the off-limit zone. In the words of an old woman, now totally alone, and especially those of a couple of middle-aged couples who rebuild in front of the camera what was the sense of community and the habits of their surroundings you feel all the inner devastation and drama that these people are forced to suffer. As in the words of another gentleman whose family, descended from a generation of samurai of 1600, finds himself selling all his properties within the contaminated area where it was decided that the bags containing the radioactive earth will be accumulated, a choice made one-way that comes, once again, imposed from above.
In conclusion Nuclear Nation 2 is a good job that naturally pays for the disappearance of the novelty effect that the former had. After 4 years it is very difficult for documentarists to find a cinematographic language capable of saying or transmitting something to the spectator that is not a simple journalistic investigation. Funahashi can only partially succeed, especially in the parts I have tried to describe above. Perhaps he pays an approach that, although moved by the right principles, proves to be taken for granted in some respects because he wants to demonstrate a thesis, I repeat more than just, against Tepco and the state. The work lights up just when it manages to distance itself and derail from these tracks, even stylistic, pre-established and leaves room for the words and the silences of the inhabitants of Futaba. Perhaps a longer work that has dedicated more “film” to people and their relationships and traumas, which the work certainly does, would be more interesting and interesting, but with the if and with the but everything is easier. [Katsuyuki Nakanishi ]