A year on, Japan nuclear film shows lives in limbo

Wed Mar 7, 2012 8:18am EST
 
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By Chris Gallagher

TOKYO (Reuters) - Decades ago, the citizens of Japan's Futaba town took such pride in hosting part of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex that they built a sign over a promenade proclaiming that atomic power made their town prosperous.

Now, they are scattered around Japan with no clear sign of when they might return to their homes, and their story has become a cautionary tale about the dangerous allure of nuclear power.

"Nuclear Nation," a documentary that premiered at last month's Berlin film festival, follows the residents of Futaba who were evacuated after a series of explosions set off by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at reactors some 3 km (2 miles) away in neighboring Okuma.

With Futaba hit by high levels of radiation, its former residents don't know when, or even if, they will be able to return to their homes within the 20 km (12 mile) exclusion zone around the plant. In the broader region, tens of thousands were forced to flee.

"You tend to think about the resolution of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, but you have to look at the people," the film's director, Atsushi Funahashi, told Reuters.

"The people who got the most damage are the most ignored, and that's (what) you have to show."

Besides "Nuclear Nation," two other March 11-themed documentaries also screened at last month's Berlin film festival, as filmmakers start focusing their lenses on the worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

Funahashi began filming last April at an abandoned high school in a Tokyo suburb where 1,400 Futaba evacuees were living in classrooms and had set up town administrative offices.   Continued...

 
Director Atsushi Funahashi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo March 5, 2012. Decades ago, the citizens of Japan's Futaba town took such pride in hosting part of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex that they built a sign over a promenade proclaiming that atomic power made their town prosperous. Now, they are scattered around Japan with no clear sign of when they might return to their homes, and their story has become a cautionary tale about the dangerous allure of nuclear power. "Nuclear Nation," a documentary made by Funahashi, that premiered at last month's Berlin film festival, follows the residents of Futaba who were evacuated after a series of explosions set off by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at reactors, some 3 km (2 miles) away in neighboring Okuma.                     REUTERS/Issei Kato