Tohoku no Shingetsu
Local filmmaker Linda Ohama, who has been living and working in Japan for the past number of years was home in Vancouver when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami devastated a large area of Japan on March 11, 2011. After spearheading a hugely successful fund-raising concert at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 19 of that same year she returned to Japan and for the past eighteen months has been involved in supporting the recovery of the Tohoku people.
Linda, who last week was awarded the Greater Vancouver YMCA 2012 Peace Award, writes, “Their stories grabbed my heart and won’t let me go. Anyone who spends time in a place like Tohoku cannot help but be deeply affected and moved by their lives and actions. I have been here as a mother, grandmother and a Nikkei Canadian, and now realize it is time to step up and be here as a filmmaker as well.”
Intent on making a film documenting the experience of the survivors, Linda has applied to funders and is also harnessing the power of the web to raise funds for the film, Tohoku no Shingetsu: Stories from Iwate, Miyagi & Fukushima, through the website indiegogo.
Tohoku no Shingetsu: Stories from Iwate, Miyagi & Fukushima
In the wake of Japan’s 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, the lives of the survivors represent the breadth of our human experience: the universal story of pain, loss, and defeat; and of beauty, love, rebirth, and survival.
The initial horror of March 11—with its virtual energy of nature’s relentless power, the violent deaths, and the serious nuclear disaster—has subsided. The aftermath seems comparably quiet and peaceful. But 350,000 displaced people remain in temporary housing and the dangers from the radiation are still a very serious reality.
How does the human spirit heal from this scale of loss? The answer that I often hear is, “Gambatte. I can’t give up for the sake of my children and grandchildren,” or “Shikataganai! There is no other choice.” With little else to choose from, their smiles are what helps them to keep believing in tomorrow.
I am an outsider in Tohoku, but a foreigner with strong Japanese roots. My perspective as a third generation Japanese Canadian filmmaker gives me a unique position to work from, which has both advantages and disadvantages.
This is what makes this film different from others. It allows me and the Tohoku people, to have an intimacy and a distance, as we go through this process of making this film together.
The media and world’s attention has left Tohoku behind. But it is now that the real dramas, bloody battles and love stories are taking place as the people struggle to revive their lives, families, and communities after loosing almost everything.
Where the media left off, is where this story begins.
Over the past year and a half, I have shot stills and some video with my SLR as an archive of the people I have met and the places I’ve been. This material is a valuable resource for this film and was used for the clip on the website.
Tohoku no Shingetsu will be an independently produced, feature-length documentary. I have applied for some funding from several Canadian cultural organizations and await their decisions.
What does the title mean?
‘Shingetsu’ is the Japanese word for ‘a new moon’.
When the moon goes from shingetsu (complete darkness) to the full moon (mangetsu or full light), people believe this is another beginning of the continuous cycle that we are all a part.
‘Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima’ are the three provinces of Tohoku that were most heavily damaged by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Where will this money go?
It is critical to be able to have access to camera equipment and a small crew. The filming will take place in multiple locations along Tohoku’s worst-hit 500 km coastline. I will handle the filming at times when the crew is not with me.
As in all my other films, this feature will meet high artistic and technical standards in post-production editing and sound, to meet requirements for festival and theatre screenings, and DVDs.
Giving something back for the future
In addition, 50% of any revenues earned from the completed production will be donated to the upcoming international film school in Onomichi, Japan, to support a new generations of filmmakers in the years to come.
Join our film team
Your contributions will be carefully used and very much appreciated. Every little bit counts as you join me to help us tell these important human stories from Tohoku.
To read more about Linda’s film project, to view a short clip or to donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/tohoku
Brief Film Profile for Linda Ohama
An award-winning documentary filmmaker, visual artist, writer, and educator, who has been working in film for over 20 years. Her documentaries have won numerous international awards and screened across the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
Ohama’s first film, The Last Harvest, won Best Documentary at the Banff Television Festival, Silver at the Philadelphia and Chicago International Film Festivals, and nominated at Cinema du Reel in Paris France.
Her first feature documentary, Obaachan’s Garden, screened at several major international film festivals, and was nominated for a Genie for Best Documentary and played in LA for consideration of Oscar nomination. This film also won five Leo Awards including best director and the ‘Audience Choice Awards’ at the international film festivals in Vancouver Canada, Newport Beach California, and Turin Italy.
Linda’s recent documentary, A Sense of Onomichi, was produced in Japan and was nominated by the 2011 Tokyo International Short Short Film Festival and screened in several international festivals in Mexico and Asia.