friends after 3.11 – Berlinale Forum 2012


friends after 3.11
Director: Iwai Shunji
Featuring: Miyuki Matsuda, Kokoro Fujinami, Masashi Gotô, Tetsunari Iida, Yasumi Iwakami, Hitomi Kamanaka, Eriko Kitagawa, Takeshi Kobayashi, Hiroaki Koide, Takeda Kunihiko, Yasuyuki Shimizu, Yû Tanaka, Takashi Uesugi, Tarô Yamamoto
Japan, 2011

Thu Feb 16, Delphi Filmpalast (European Premiere)

We should take this work at face value, as not so much a film as an introduction to a group of newly discovered friends, to promote collaborations that extend beyond education and entertainment, to survival.

After the 3/11/11 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, film maker and Sendai native Iwai Shunji (Swallowtail Butterfly, New York I Love You) traveled Japan with actress Miyuki Matsuda, junior idol Kokoro Fujinami, and actor Tarô Yamamoto to witness the unprecedented devastation of Fukushima and interview a diverse group of anti-nuclear activists in wide-ranging conversations around science, politics, economics, and personal responsibility for both the local tragedy and our global future.

Masashi Gotô, a former nuclear plant architect, details how government-corporate nuclear policy focused narrowly on probable occurrences, leaving exceptional events such as powerful earthquakes and tsunamis out of plant design and contingency plans.

Decrying the lack of courage to release information that will cause embarrassment, journalist Takashi Uesugi relates how the news media do not challenge claims of government and industry that Japan is safely free from radiation, even though the Fukushima disaster released more radiation than the Chernobyl meltdown, which itself released more radiation than the Hiroshima attack.

Reached by Skype, film maker Tan Chui Mui tells of Malaysia’s full-court press to develop nuclear power on the island nation and open a huge rare-earth refinery near the village of Gebeng, Pahang, claiming that both are safe while forbidding media access to the construction sites.

Professor Hiroaki Koide, of Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute, offers a heart-felt apology to the Japanese people for his role in the lead-up to the disaster, while earnestly seeking a generation of new nuclear researchers, not to develop the industry further, but because “we will need people to clean up the trash.” Professor Koide expresses perhaps the most representative statement of this important conversation: “I’d choose to live again to do that work.”

They call them bodhisattvas.

Berlinale Section: Forum