Women of Fukushima
January 5, 2013
In a new film, six Japanese women offer brutally honest views on the state of the clean-up, the cover-ups and untruths since the nuclear accident in Fukushima, and how it has affected their lives, homes and families.
Women of Fukushima
Over a year since three reactors went into meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, a broad, disparate anti-nuclear movement is growing in Japan. Nowhere is that more apparent, perhaps, than in Fukushima prefecture, where a group of local women boldly protest the deafening silence of the Japanese government over the worst nuclear accident of this century.
Largely ignored by their own media, these brave women brush aside their cultural shyness and share their brutally honest views on the state of the cleanup, the cover-ups, the untruths and the stagnant political climate in today’s Japan.
Supported with rare footage from inside the exclusion zone, as well as from abandoned neighboring towns, the Women of Fukushima (“Fukushima no Onnatachi”) offers startlingly candid insights, in the women’s own voices, about what has become of their lives, homes, and families in the aftermath of 3/11.
Women of Fukushima
(January 4, 2012) -- Women of Fukushima is the first production produced by Kugi Productions. The founders of Kugi Productions are Paul Johannessen, Jeffrey Jousan and Ivan Kovac -- three filmmakers who were all living in Japan during the disaster in 2011.
Back on 11.11.11, Paul wanted to go to Tohoku to film footage that would become part of a global documentary project called One Day on Earth.
Jeffrey had been delivering aid all through the region since the tsunami and had some local contacts in Ishinomaki, people he knew who had amazing stories to tell. Paul also brought in Ivan Kovac as he believed that while two is company, three is a team.
The footage from the trip was so powerful that in addition to handing it over to One Day on Earth, where it has become a significant part of their forthcoming full-length documentary, Paul and Jeffrey also edited a short film, Then and Now.
Months past and Then and Now had a powerful affect on people in Japan and all over the world. This inspired the team to continue their efforts in capturing stories from Tohoku. Thus, Kugi Productions was born, and Women of Fukushima is the first project to be completed.
The full ramifications of the aftermath of the disaster that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 will take decades to unfold. Having shifted from the initial visceral drama to a more long-term, almost invisible threat, there is a real risk that the situations faced by residents of Fukushima Prefecture will simply vanish from the radar screens of the world’s media (or, in the case of Japanese media, remain non-existent).
To this day, as a result of the meltdowns, children can’t play outside, families are breaking up, and women are even having abortions for fear of genetic damage to their unborn children. Hope is hard to come by in Fukushima.
However, after meeting a group of outspoken local women, we were compelled to capture their spirit and stories. These Japanese women, traditionally shy and quiet, have taken their anger, anxiety, frustration and loss of hope, and turned it into a rallying call to move forward to change Japan and the world into a safer place for our children. Their resilience and honesty in the face of the Japanese government’s lies and complacency compelled us to provide a platform for them to speak their minds. The results surprise, shock and inspire.
Our motivation for making this film was to ensure that the world could witness the honesty and courage of these women who have dared to speak up, while others have remained silent.
Paul Johannessen, Director
Born in Sydney, Australia, Paul has worked in TV/Film production since 1999. After moving with his wife to Japan where she had been awarded a scholarship at a fine arts university, Paul started working freelance as a cameraman and editor for various production companies in Tokyo. On top of producing videos for corporations and foreign production companies, Paul also has numerous more artistic pursuits, writing music and creating art videos together with his wife, as well as documentaries.
Jeffrey Jousan, Co-Director
Born in Tenafly, New Jersey, Jeffrey Jousan is a audiophile recordist/engineer, producer, location coordinator and interviewer. Passionate about high quality sound, on location, on set or in the studio, he knows the power of sound adds emotion and life to video. In addition to great sound and stunning images, the subjects of interviews must feel comfortable and trust their interviewer. Jeffrey, quickly puts his interviewees at ease, with jokes, a story or shared experience, a soft tone of voice and focused, compassionate attention which brings a natural frankness and intimacy to the Interviews.
Ivan Kovac, Director of Photography
Ivan Kovac is a Film, Television, Commercial, Music Video and Web Media Cameraman/DP with broad experience. Trained in Film Production and a graduate of the Sydney Film School, Ivan specializes in RED digital camera technology and digital image capturing on a wider scale. Ivan has shot numerous projects since arriving in Japan.
Some of his past work includes Xu Jing Lei promoting Glamour Sales (in Beijing), Chanel, Red Bull, Reebok, Sanofi Aventis, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel ("Atlas Next Japan", featuring renowned designer of the Enzo Ferrari, Ken Okuyama).
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