It's hard not to be moved by the words of love, gratitude and resilience spoken by earthquake/tsunami survivors and volunteers in "Pray for Japan."
It’s hard not to be moved by the words of love, gratitude and resilience spoken by earthquake/tsunami survivors and volunteers in “Pray for Japan.” But well-meaning platitudes go only so far in this sincerely felt, raggedly structured compilation of footage shot by producer-director Stu Levy while he was aiding victims in the devastated coastal city of Ishinomaki. Released March 16 in Los Angeles and New York, with proceeds benefiting relief org Jen, the self-distribbed pic accordingly plays like a collective thank-you to the rescue effort, limiting its appeal for those hoping to learn something more about the disaster and its aftermath.
One of numerous docus that have appeared in time to commemorate the tragedy’s one-year anniversary, the pic focuses primarily on relief work at Ishinomaki’s Minato-sho Shelter and efforts to relocate students and faculty from a devastated middle school. Even when training his camera on teenager Kento Ito, who lost his grandparents, mother and younger brother, Levy seeks to excavate hope from the rubble, a noble impulse ill served by his interviewees’ repetitive expressions of solidarity, backed by a treacly, ever-present score. Tech assembly is fine.