by Chris MaGee
It's nearly been a year since the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Over 300,000 people are still homeless and the estimated cost of rebuilding is rising into the billions of dollars. Events to commemorate the first anniversary of this historic tragedy have been planned around the globe. Here in Toronto is no different, and the folks at the Toronto Japan Foundation office have assembled a programme of free 3/11 documentaries to share messages of hope and renewal with Canadians and Japanese alike.
Starting on March 13th and continuing throughout the month the Japan Foundation will present six films, both documentaries and fiction, dealing with 3/11 at Innis Town Hall Theatre 2 Sussex Ave.) on the University of Toronto campus. The series kicks off with Masaki Kobayashi's "Masaki Kobayashi" (above), which chronicles the famous Iwaki City "hula girls" as they tour Japan and promote the rebuilding of the Hawaiian-style resort made famous in Sang-il Lee's "Hula Girls". "Setting Sail from the Ruins", produced by NHK, tells the story of fishermen in Ofunato, Iwate who struggle to continue their work in the three months following the tsunami. Isamu Nakae's "Rock: A Dog’s Island" is a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of a family who reunites with their lost pet in the aftermath of 3/11. Akio Kondo's "Éclair ", a drama set in post-war Japan, doesn't deal directly with 3/11, but it was shot in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture and many of it's cast, crew and extras were injured or killed in the quake and tsunami. The series wraps up with two additional NHK documentaries "Can You See Our Lights" and "Light Up Nippon".
For a full listing of screening times and additional details on each film visit the Japan Foundation's website here.