February 2022

Join the Film Committee…

© Thomas Ash 2021

Join us on Wednesday, February 16 at 6 pm for Thomas Ash’s eye-opening, hard-hitting documentary Ushiku, which takes viewers inside the infamous Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, the largest of Japan’s 17 detention centers. Ash was voluntarily working to support detained asylum seekers there when he realized there would be greater impetus for drastically needed change if the public could hear (and better yet, see) detainees' stories of being treated as prisoners, refused access to healthcare and visitors, and stripped of basic human rights. Nine detainees were willing to share their harrowing testimonies of incarceration and mental and physical abuse with the filmmaker, despite the potential consequences. Ash took the unprecedented step of secretly recording interviews with them over the course of several months, allowing the participants to covertly bypass the media blackout imposed by the government. Ash appeared at FCCJ with several former detainees in 2021, on the eve of his documentary’s world premiere in Germany, and expressed hope that Ushiku would be released in time for the Tokyo Olympics. Would-be distributors were skittish, however, until the asylum case of Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya drew enormous media attention and criticism of Japan’s hypocritical stance. Ash and several of the film’s participants will join us for a Q&A session. (Ushiku, Japan, 2021, 87 minutes, in Japanese/English with English/Japanese subtitles).

Watch trailer

Karen Severns is chair of the FCCJ Film Committee