[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
[ Staff ]
• Cinematography: YAMAZAKI Yutaka
• Cinematography: FUNAHASHI Atsushi
• Music: SUZUKI Haruyuki
• Ending Theme: SAKAMOTO Ryuichi
[ Production Company ]
Documentary Japan, BIG RIVER FILMS
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Documentary Japan, BIG RIVER FILMS
Release Date: October 13, 2012
Running Time: 96 min
Screening Format: HDCAM
[ Story ]
The town of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture has grown in symbiosis with the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant. This documentary is a record of nine months in the lives of its people, who faced a emergency situation that required the entire town to evacuate when a hydrogen explosion occurred at the nuclear plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11th 2011.
The townspeople of Futaba have been forced into a state of limbo as they take shelter at evacuation centers, with no sign of when they will be able to return to their homes. The camera captures their drastically altered everyday lives, and highlights their complicated feelings regarding Japan’s nuclear policy.
[ Official Site ]
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
• 2012 Berlin International Film Festival, Forum
• 2012 Hong Kong International Film Festival, Documentary Competition
• 2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival, New Perspectives
The first image of Nuclear Nation is the movement of a wave on a beach. Shortly thereafter the cherry blossoms fill the screen.
The documentary by Funahashi Atsushi (his latest film Deep in the valley, 2009), introduces a work marked by the progress of the seasons, a choice that gives a strong sense of circularity.
The director manages to interview many people from the community of Futaba, a city in Fukushima prefecture, evacuated following the disaster on March 11 2011. 1400 inhabitants of the town swept away by the sea and reached by the nuclear fallout of the following days, are hosted in the complex of a school in a suburb of Tokyo. And it is there that the filmmaker meets them, in particular the mayor of the town, the man who tries in every way to keep alive the sense of community, who struggles to assert the rights of his fellow citizens, among a thousand obstacles, news fragmentary, excuses of convenience and aid that does not arrive.
He is a tragic and courageous figure, that is the mayor of Futaba. It reveals itself in front of the camera, recognizing that it has succumbed to the economic lures of the big companies, without considering the risks connected to nuclear power in an appropriate way. Funahashi follows him to meetings with politicians and visually documents the sense of powerlessness in the face of the indifference of the latter. During filming, and it is not worthy, the man revealed his emotions and his frustration, humiliated by the many unfulfilled promises. The director takes him back with his people, while he accompanies them in the two hours that at a certain point they decide to have available to be able to return to their homes in the contaminated area. Meanwhile, the faces flow, to witness the many personal tragedies, the days pass and life continues in the school premises: gymnastics, the compilation of the forms for unemployment benefits, the visit of the Empress, a man prepares sushi for his nephew, at intervals the televisions available propose the news filtered by the Government, which, due to their unreliability and the continuous apologies of the vague hypocritical taste, aroused comments annoyed by those directly affected by the disaster.
The director approaches with great respect to the people in the school, they themselves tell personal stories, express their perplexities. Not without a bit of anguish, we witness the moments that they would like to be in the school. A demonstration of wrestling, musical groups, the festival of Tanabata, when strips of colored paper are hung from the branches of trees with deserts written on them (the most recurring one is that at the same time even more unattainable: to be able to return soon to Futaba) because the wind shakes them and, as the legend says, they become reality.
In my opinion, Funahashi is able to give life to a very intense, reflective and well documented work of the emotional loss of people overwhelmed by a disaster of unimaginable dimensions, which has upset their lives. It does so by insisting on the faces and gestures of everyday life, torn from their headquarters and “relocated” into another dimension, imposed by emergency, but precisely for this unnatural.
The film closes on the notes of “For Futaba” by Sakamoto Ryūichi.
At the end of the screening a video message of the mayor was presented, unable to attend the Berlin Festival due to meetings with government officials on the same days. In the video, again, he expressed his perplexities on the choice of nuclear energy, especially with regard to safety and waste management. At the moment it seems that the man is trying to organize the settlement of the community in a temporary location.