Few of us will ever forget watching the images of devastation that accompanied the events of March 2011 in Japan.
The tsunami and the nuclear disaster that followed cost many lives to be lost, many homes to be destroyed and many families to be left with a deep sense of loss.
The news media however is not a patient beast or a thoughtful one and within just a few days the story slipped from top spot in the news and within a few weeks it barely warranted a mention. Now, over a year later, few outside of Japan ever think of what happened.
Thankfully a more thoughtful and patient source of information exists in the shape of filmmaker Atsushi Funahashi who spent the best part of a year living with and documenting the experiences of those from the town of Futaba in the Fukushima Prefecture. Many hundreds of those residents were forced from their homes by the disaster and moved into an abandoned high school on the outskirts of Tokyo.
It is from inside this high school that we are reminded of the real and terrible legacy of the disaster. We meet fathers who have lost wives, sons who have lost mothers, elderly men and women forced to sleep on the floors of classrooms and eat pre-packaged bento box lunches, children plunged into the chaos of new schools and a wonderfully stoic farmer who has refused to abandon his cows...his life, he says, is tied to these animals.
Director Atsushi suggested, prior to this screening, that this was not a film that he could ask us to enjoy and he was right but what he has delivered is a film that forces us to feel...we feel the incredible loss of the families, we feel the pain of local leaders who want only to secure a brighter future for their residents, we feel the anger of all at the lack of support or care from their political leaders and we feel a deep sense of anger at the irresponsible and morally bankrupt actions of the corporations involved in this sorry tale.
We also feel a great sense of hope and awe as we watch these people who have been so battered by events try to remain upbeat, focused and resolute. Life is hard, they seem to tell us, but it is worth living and fighting for. Hope, we soon accept, is important.
Atsushi has already started work on a follow up film...his relationship with his subjects now transcending that of filmmaker and object. He understands that this is a story that must be told and he has proven with "Nuclear Nation" that he is the right person to tell it. A moving and inspiring film that deserves to be seen by everyone.
"Nuclear Nation" will be shown at Cineworld on June 28th at 20:15