Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Films by young directors shed new light on A-bomb survivors"

From Japan Today:

U.N. disarmament experts and antinuclear campaigners may have heard about Japanese atomic-bomb survivors, but a pair of documentaries about them designed to connect with ordinary young people were recently completed by directors under 30 from Costa Rica and Japan.

Erika Bagnarello’s ‘‘Flashes of Hope’’ and Takashi Kunimoto’s ‘‘Traveling with Hibakusha: Across Generations’’ both feature, with different approaches, a group of over 100 such survivors, called ‘‘hibakusha’’ in Japanese, who cruised around the world in 2008 in the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat’s first such project for them.

A series of events across Japan to screen the two films and talk with the directors began Wednesday, and at least Bagnarello’s work, designed for English-speaking audiences, will be shown in New York on May 1, two days before the start of a key U.N. conference to enhance the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In interviews prior to the events, both 29-year-olds expressed hope that their roughly hour-long movies will help viewers in Japan and other countries respond to the hibakusha’s message that the tragedies caused by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never be repeated.

‘‘I feel like the message of the hibakusha is very clear: they want to bring hope to the world, they want to tell their story and make sure that it never happens again. So for me, the film is about hope,’’ said Bagnarello, who was in Tokyo on her first visit since the voyage for the screening.

Kunimoto, whose film shed light on hibakusha of a younger generation than the seasoned activists, said, ‘‘What is really important is that we think by ourselves how we can respond to the stories of hibakusha…I hope to offer a catalyst for that.’‘

Both admitted, however, that they joined the voyage as staff filmmakers initially to travel around the world free of charge.

A freelance director for corporate videos and commercials for the Costa Rican market, Bagnarello had not made a documentary before, and Kunimoto was an amateur video maker earning a salary in an unrelated business until he made it a career after the voyage to make web videos for a radio station.

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