Thursday, June 11, 2009

Film about the establishment of free healthcare in Japan hits major roadblocks

by Chris MaGee

Here's a story about a film that's both inspiring in its ambition and sad due to the circumstances of its production. "Inochi no Sanga: Nihon no Aozora 2", tell the story of the townsfolk of Sawauchi, Iwate Prefecture, who in 1960 were suffering through a long hard winter and crisis level mortality rates amongst their children and seniors. Stepping up to address these issues the town's mayor Masao Fukasawa, played by actor Hatsunori Hasegawa (above), declared that he would work towards free medical care for children and the elderly, and tow years later he had done just that. By 1962 Sawauchi was the first locality in Japan to achieve a 0% infant mortality rate.

An inspiring story, no? Obviously producer Terumitsu Komuro and director Yutaka Osawa thought so, but unable to secure the backing of one main financial investor they decoded to make their film by selling ¥100,000 (roughly $1,100 CAD) "production cooperation tickets" to raise funding for the project. With this money they started production in February, but by last month only 40% of the the production costs had been raised and they were left sitting on 1,200 unsold "tickets".

Since then Komuro has had to push back the release of the film until August despite the fact that its release was already being promoted. With the production deeply in debt Komuro is now selling ¥1,000,000 ($11,200 CAD) loan payments that will be paid back to the investors by 2011. Along with a return of their investment buyers will receive their names included as producers on the film's credits, a DVD copy of the film, and promotional flyers to spread the word about "Inochi no Sanga: Nihon no Aozora 2".

Talk about a hand-to-mouth production! You can check out the film's official website here, and if any of you happen to have 10 grand burning a hole in your pocket contact the producers of "Inochi no Sanga" at 03-3524-1565. Thanks to Mainichi Shimbun for the details on this story.

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