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Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 19:00 - 21:30

Must-see documentary about nuclear exiles from Tohoku and
Q&A on hot-button issues with Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa and
documentary director Atsushi Funahashi

Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 pm10142014 Nuclear Nation2 2577p copy

In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2014 114 minutes

Edited and directed by: Atsushi Funahashi
Producer: Yoshiko Hashimoto

Film courtesy of Playtime

The nuclear disaster arising out of 3/11 has inspired hundreds of documentaries, but the first to receive international attention was Atsushi Funahashi's 2012 "Nuclear Nation," about the exile of residents from the area housing the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant. Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival less than a year after the meltdowns, it provided an extremely intimate look at an unconscionable situation. Following the fates of 1,415 evacuees from Futaba Machi, who were forced to evacuate 250 km away to an abandoned high school in Saitama, it highlighted the inhumane conditions, the ongoing agonies, the unanswered questions about the true costs of nuclear energy and capitalism.

Futaba Town Hall was also moved into the four-story school - essentially creating the first nuclear refugee camp since Chernobyl - and over the course of the film, we saw Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa, a cheerleader for nuclear power who had just convinced the government to build two more reactors, beginning to question his support. The residents of his "perfect little town" had all been exposed to the fallout, and after 8 months, TEPCO was still grappling to bring the plant under control. Worse, the government was pressuring Idogawa to approve a plan to co-opt Futaba as a temporary storage site for contaminated soil. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara would later make his notorious remark that, "At the end of the day, it all boils down to 'kaneme' (the amount of money locals would get in compensation for their land)."

Although he did not intrude onscreen, it was clear that Funahashi shared his subjects' moral outrage and exasperation in the face of the information vacuum that defined all government and TEPCO dealings. And it was also clear that he wasn’t going to leave that school until all the evacuees had moved on. At the end of "Nuclear Nation," over 600 (from the original 1,415) were still in residence.

And now we have the second chapter in their ordeal. "Nuclear Nation II" begins at New Year's 2012, and brings us forward to Day 1,111 in March, when the school is once again abandoned. In this chapter, there are no more bands coming to cheer up the evacuees, no more truckloads of fresh produce, no more visits from the emperor and empress, no more "Gambare Futaba Machi!!" banners. But there are still the annual observances of prayer marking 3/11, the 30-minute visits to crumbling homes in the exclusion zone, men shuffling into meetings they don’t want to attend, officials dodging questions. There is also increasing desperation, bickering over differing levels of resident compensation, and a new mayor, after Idogawa's vocal complaints have become too much for the city council and he is summarily replaced.

Three and a half years after the triple disaster, more than 90,000 people still live in temporary facilities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures due to construction delays on permanent housing. With the announcement on September 10 that Japan has approved the restart of Kyushu's Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, the country's only full year without nuclear power since 1966 will soon come abruptly to an end.

Join us for this sneak preview of "Nuclear Nation II" and what is sure to be a rousing discussion of what Funahashi terms "an inconvenient truth." As he puts it, "Japan now has inland refugees from Fukushima because we kicked them out of their homeland and are turning it into a dumping ground. The role of my film is to show they have lost something kaneme (money) can never compensate."

For more: and

Director ATSUSHI FUNAHASHI earned a BA in Cinema Studies from the University of Tokyo and moved to New York in 1997 to study directing at the School of Visual Arts. His debut feature "echoes" (2001) won awards, enabling him to work with "Beat" Takeshi's Office Kitano on hi second film, "Big River" (2006), which was shown at the Berlin, Busan, Karlovy Vary, Sao Paolo and Shanghai Film Festivals, and distributed worldwide. Funahashi moved back to Tokyo in 2007 and made his first Japanese film "Deep in the Valley" (2009), which was invited to Berlin, Hong Kong, Cinema Digital Seoul and numerous other film festivals. "Nuclear Nation" (2012) played at Berlin and dozens of other festivals, and was seen by 16,000 online as part of the crowdfunding campaign to complete "Nuclear Nation II." "Cold Bloom," a narrative film with Fukushima as its background, earned international accolades in 2013. Funahashi also directs TV dramas and documentaries, including last year’s NHK documentary on Yasujiro Ozu.
Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.   

- Karen Severns, Movie Committee

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