Three very different 3.11 documentaries

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Lucy Walker’s short documentary was made available online on the second anniversary of March 11th. I watched it on my laptop late at night, after a friend had posted the link on Facebook.

Survivors in the hardest-hit areas of Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins in this stunning visual haiku about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower.

I guess this would be the highest profile English film about earthquake? It’s really a gorgeous piece, a very empathic portrayal of grace and hope, and I got sucked into the flow of the imagery and stories.

Resilience: Protecting today (今日を守る)

This film is directed by Yuka Kanno, a university student who goes back to her hometown of Rikuzentakata City to interview school friends, their families, neighbors and teachers.

Interviews is not really the right word. It’s a recording of intimate conversations, as each person attempts to articulate their emotions to connect with one another. The director’s friends are perfectly comfortable elapsing into silence, camera forgotten, as they visit childhood haunts that have been ravaged by tsunamis and will probably be torn down in the upcoming months.

Kanno and many of her friends left Rikuzentakata a few years ago for college. They gently probe each other on their mixed emotions on whether or not to come back home after graduation, while sharing profound relief at being able to talk to someone that understands all the sadness, guilt, and bewilderment.

I couldn’t find the trailer on YouTube but here’s a nice clip from NHK World.

“That Day – Fukushima is alive” (あの日 〜福島は生きている〜)

This film is a documentary about LIVE Fukushima, the controversial 6 day music festival that toured Fukushima Prefecture in September 2011. It brilliantly focuses on the people – the then and now of the people who made it happen and the people who attended. It’s a great capturing of the power of the most unassuming of people taking action day in and day out, painting the festival as a common thread that almost accidentally becomes a pivotal moment for all of them.

That Day is a relatively new film that’s only just starting being promoted. I think we’ll be hearing more about it this year as it tours the country.

Again, no trailer but here’s something better – the anthem “I love you & I need you Fukushima” by the Inawashiroko’s.

I saw the last two at the After 3.11 Film Festival (thanks @0bo5) last weekend. There are a few more I’d like to see, and I’ll add them to this post as it happens.