Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Filmmakers Ash and Kamanaka Discuss Radiation, Secrets and Lives

Filmmakers Ash and Kamanaka discuss radiation, secrets and lives (2015, May 13)

[Excerpted] Ian Thomas Ash and Hitomi Kamanaka are perhaps the two most widely viewed filmmakers who have produced documentaries about the effects of radioactivity in Fukushima since the March 11, 2011, disaster. Ash’s commitment to the subject arose after the multiple nuclear meltdown. Kamanaka, on the other hand, has been Japan’s designated nuclear documentarian for nearly two decades.

In a number of ways, they are each the other’s mirror image. Ash is a foreign filmmaker who produces films in Japanese. Kamanaka also made her first widely distributed film about radiation exposure by traveling abroad: She went to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state and to Iraq, where she documented the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqi citizens after the first Gulf War. She has continued to travel since, making films in Sweden and, most recently, Belarus.

Kamanaka has considered herself an activist filmmaker from nearly the beginning, and her films are consciously critical of the nuclear energy industry. Ash’s films, however, are narrative in nature. His camera stays firmly planted in the lives of his individual subjects.

In this way, as well, the two filmmakers’ careers have converged: Kamanaka’s new film, “Little Voices from Fukushima,” eschews a commentary structure in favor of a larger cast of subjects and a similarly narrative style. The film’s subject matter — the effects of radiation on the thyroid glands of children following nuclear meltdowns — also brings Kamanaka into alignment with Ash, whose two post-Fukushima documentaries address this issue exclusively.....

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