by Chris MaGee
It was way back in October of 2008 that we reported on how Hirokazu Koreeda had made a concert documentary with Japanese singer Cocco. The film, titled "Daijobu de aru yo ni - Cocco: Owaranai Tabi" took its inspiration from a song penned by Cocco about about a pair of dugong that appeared in the waters near a planned U.S. naval base. Cocco's environmental concerns were at the center of the film, and now almost two years later we have word of Koreeda getting involved in a new environmental documentary.
The 49-year-old director of such films as "After Life" and "Air Doll" is acting as the executive producer of Tomoko Kana's new documentary "Beautiful Islands". The documentary chronicles the lives of people on three very different islands - the South Pacific island of Tuvalu, Venice, Italy and the Alasakan island Shishmaref north of the Bering Strait. The one thing that unites these three radically different locales is that they are all sinking into the sea. With the slow and seemingly unstoppable melting of the polar ice cap is raising ocean levels and threatening to turn these three islands into aquatic mountain tops.
38-year-old Kana, the woman behind "Beautiful Islands" got her start in the film world by starring in an early TV documentary of Koreeda's and it's obvious that a connection has remained between the two filmmakers all thee years later. Kana went on from that early appearance in front of the camera to directing a series of documentaries from behind the camera - the 2001 film about Indonesian comfort women during WW2 "Mardiyem" and "From the Land of Bitter Tears", the 2004 look at Chinese people dealing with the chemical weapons left in their country from the Japanese occupation during the war.
The trailer for "Beautiful Islands" is online, but has the dreaded "Embedding disabled by request" tag on YouTube, so click here to take a look at it. It has some truly stunning cinematography. Also while you're at it visit Tomoko Kana's personal website for more details on her work. "Beautiful Islands" is being released next month in Japan by Eleven Arts.