Funahashi Atsushi’s “Nuclear Nation II” documentary is neither polemic, nor simple diary. But it is pretty clear where the director’s sympathies lie.
His followup to 2012’s “Nuclear Nation” points an accusing finger at the Japanese government as he compares the citizens displaced by the Fukushima disaster to the people of Gaza, likens official pronouncements to propaganda and argues that the societal cost of nuclear power is simply too high.
The film, which plays in Berlin’s Forum section, tracks a longer period of time, two years and eight months, than the down and dirty “Nuclear Nation,” which was made in the first nine months after the disaster. As such, “Nuclear Nation II” tracks people who have now moved on from the initial quake-tsunami-nuclear disaster shock, but who seem stuck in a limbo between denial, grief and anger.
The people of Fukushima province were affected differently by the meltdown. Some were spared, some were evacuated. Still others failed to get instruction and had to make tough decisions for themselves.
Funahashi is not some easy to categorize left-winger. He is also a self-confessed Clint Eastwood buff. “The Flags of Our Fathers” is one of his all-time favorite movies.
“Nuclear Nation II” shows the citizens of one town first evacuated, then split as to what to do next. Half flee still further, now taking up residence in all corners of Japan. The other half choose to wait it out, patiently consuming lunch boxes provided by the government and hoping to receive financial compensation that recognizes the true value of the properties they have lost.
“These are people who have lost their homes and are not able to return. The Japanese government says it is helping. But it is not enough,” Funahashi argues.
His accusations go deeper too. “It is not just about money, we’ve lost history, tradition, culture, community – the invisible stuff,” which he says have been wiped out by an invisible killer.
He accuses the national government of playing with statistics – “They say that the radiation is down 80% in parts, but it is still 60-times higher than is permitted,” says Funahashi – and of encroaching on media freedom. “Fukushima was a wake-up call for the independent press, who didn’t really know what they had until they lost it.”
Funahashi, who directed arthouse romance “Bloom” in 2013, says that he plans to continue to alternate between fiction and documentary. “The documentaries are my research, my fieldwork.”