29 Février 2016
February 28, 2016
By NATSUKI EDOGAWA/ Staff Writer
The latest Fukushima-based fictional film by director Tsuyoshi Inoue, “Live! Love! Sing!” tells of evacuees from the 2011 nuclear disaster who are still unable to return to their hometowns.
In the movie, playing at mini theaters and elsewhere across Japan, Inoue examines these displaced persons who now have conflicted feelings about their hometowns and hopes of returning.
"Live! Love! Sing!" follows the director's successful portrayal of people struggling to live together after their towns were devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK)'s hit morning series "Ama-chan,” which aired in 2013.
The protagonist in “Live! Love! Sing!” is Asami Mizushima, a high school girl who has moved to Kobe from Tonami, a fictitious town in Fukushima Prefecture whose residents have been displaced due to the disaster.
Scattered across the country, Asami and her classmates return to Tonami to dig up a time capsule they buried in the schoolyard when they were in elementary school.
Yoshihide Otomo, who composed the opening theme for “Ama-chan” and grew up in Fukushima Prefecture, provided music for the film.
“Live! Love! Sing!” was shot in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, a town that remains completely evacuated since the 2011 disaster. Actual evacuees joined the cast as extras.
When the production team asked for help from the public to appear as extras in festival scenes, about 400 evacuees returned to the town to participate.
Seeing the townspeople hang around the location after shooting the scenes, the cast and staff members were reminded of how the evacuees were reluctant to leave their hometown, according to the director.
In the film, one of Asami’s lines is particularly shocking.
When her boyfriend’s mother, who experienced the Great Hanshin Earthquake, shows sympathy for what occurred in Fukushima Prefecture, Asami rebuffs her, saying, “The disaster in Tonami is not minor like it was in Kobe.”
Because Asami is so preoccupied with her thinking that the nuclear accident was more disastrous than the 1995 earthquake, which claimed the lives of 6,434 people, the emotionally damaged girl cannot fathom the pain of others.
What is portrayed in “Live! Love! Sing!” is a situation different from current society, where human bonds and sympathy have been emphasized after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
“I thought I could have that line (of discord) in a work of fiction,” Inoue said.
The idea came from a TV drama he shot six years ago about the Hanshin earthquake. One of the actors from Kobe said to him, “You don’t know anything, do you?”
“I wondered whether I could have the characters play out the fact that we can’t understand one another,” Inoue said.
In Fukushima Prefecture, there is an evacuated town overrun with weeds, while posters for a “Welcome Back” promotional campaign are put up at financial institutions after the government decided to lift the evacuation order in another town just a few kilometers away.
When Inoue dealt with people affected by the tsunami in “Ama-chan,” whose main locale was in Iwate Prefecture, the director wanted to show hope because there were people determined to stay in devastated areas.
But Inoue said he wasn’t sure how to portray the situation in Fukushima Prefecture because he wondered why there were puzzling differences between areas separated by a short distance in the same prefecture.
Inoue also said he was struck by how evacuees of the nuclear disaster live their daily lives.
“They were forced into an absurd situation, have no one to release their anger on, and yet have to keep on living,” he said. “I wondered how they were coping with it. I wanted to come face to face with such things.
“I still haven’t found an answer. But I thought maybe I could support any choices they make, and try to reconstruct places where they used to live, or live in different places as their new home. Either way is fine. I made this film because I thought it would be great if I could say that any choice might be fine.”
The movie ends with a faint glimmer of hope beyond the discord.
“It would be better if we could say it in words,” the director said. “If it is a rift, it is a rift, and I want to show something that can bridge it in the movie. I don’t mind if it leads to fights. I hope the movie can be a forum where everyone can speak their minds.”