Nuclear Nation IIBerlin Film Festival 2015
Nuclear Nation II is director, writer, and producer Atsushi Funahashi’s second documentary about the Fukushima refugees and his fifth feature-length film. Funahashi forces viewers to confront the residents of the Futaba region, who have been displaced from their homes due to the nuclear accident of March 11, 2011. Most nations around the world have forgotten about the disaster, but it’s especially disturbing to see Japan do the same. The government only offers its “sincere apologies” to the lost community. The film questions the validity of capitalism and central government, pointing out where bureaucracy fails due to red tape and assumed corruption during a time of crisis.
It begins with the New Year’s sombre celebrations of 2012. As the film continues, it marks the passage of time with the coming seasons, but each New Year acts as a reminder that fresh beginnings are impossible for those who have lost their homes.
The film sympathises with Futaba’s mayor during the crisis as he tries to help his community, but points out the failure of the government to provide aid to its people. In the beginning, a man from the affected region yells at his councilmen for their poor representation. He seems a bit too irate, but as the film progresses his angry sentiments gain potency. At the 2013 annual convention of the Japan Council of Municipalities with Atomic Power Stations, power plants and energy companies ask to forget about the crisis which happened two years ago, even while refugees still inhabit the Kisai High School.
Funahashi sheds light on the refugees, making their voices heard when their representatives refuse to listen. To the Japanese government, Futaba and its (now former) residents represent collateral damage of fueling a nation. The film shows there is little humanity to government, despite it being run by real-life people. Prospects of compensation become more and more dim despite the mayors’ best efforts.
The complexity of the situation is not lost on Funahashi – what are you supposed to think when your livelihood, and prosperity of your community, has depended on the plant which has now caused you to lose everything? Funahashi would say this irony doesn’t matter when dealing with human lives in need of basic living conditions. Does his opinion matter when the government doesn’t share this sentiment? Nuclear Nation II offers a fatalist narrative but considering the film’s denouement, it seems warranted. Watch the movie and find solace in hearing Futaba’s residents’ outcries, but don’t expect to leave the experience at ease.
Nuclear Nation II does not yet have a UK release date.
Watch the trailer for Nuclear Nation II here: