The Japanese film Homeland – titled “Ieji” in Japanese – is about a farming family who is forced away from their home by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The new movie, shown recently at the Berlin Film Festival, is the first real Japanese mass-market release that talks about the sensitive issues around what has become the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Directed by Nao Kubota, Homeland shows the main characters of the movie living in cramped temporary housing, and their familial relationships under a huge amount of stress as they wait for government permission to return to the land which they have known all their lives, handed down to them by the generations of farmers before them. Despite there being an intense debate in the country regarding the government’s stance on nuclear power, Kubota said that he opted to move away from the debate to tell a very human story. “I wanted to make a film that would be relevant for a long time to come, that people could watch in 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years and see that this sort of claustrophobic situation came about,” he said. “That’s what I want everyone to feel – and it’s for that reason that it’s not anti-nuclear.”
Kubota’s background in documentary making shows in the film, which centers on an estranged son defying government policies and moving into the excluded zone to reclaim his family’s land. The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011 had caused a chain reaction that resulted in multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power facility. The ensuing disaster had rendered most of Fukushima’s farmland under dangerous radiation and forced thousands farmers and their families to move away from the lives that they have known for so long.
Homeland is set to be released in Japan nearly three years after the disaster, and film critics are already saying that it has unintentionally taken an anti-nuclear stance. “Taking a camera into the no-go zone and filming there really shows the claw marks of the nuclear accident,” says film critic Yuichi Maeda. “He may say he’s not anti-nuclear but after seeing the film I think he actually is.” The jury is still out on whether this film will be a success in Japan, as the sensitive nature of the nuclear issue tends to turn off viewers to movies with heavy political overtones.
[via Digital Journal]