Making films about tragedies a short time after they happened isn’t common. Movie makers try to avoid the risk of hurting the feelings of the survivors and their families or of being considered greedy, trying to exploit the moment for profit. And yet the Japanese disaster was followed by plenty of movies.
Within months of the March 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, there were already enough movies on the topic to make for an all-but-instant subgenre, The New York Times writes in a story called “Post-Traumatic Filmmaking in Japan”.
Three documentaries on the aftermath of the disaster took part in the Berlin Film Festival last month, but the list of new productions is growing. References to the tragedy appear even in new fiction-movies. Last October at a Japanese film festival the organizers were astonished by the number of films on the theme received in the applications and decided to show all 29.
The reasons for this abundance are unclear, but they could be connected to a number of factors. The convenience of digital technology, the speed with which news “must” circulate or the huge dimensions of the tragedy and the need to balance in an artistic way the reports from the press and the government.
Toshi Fujiwara, who produced the film “No Man’s Zone” about the abandoned towns in the Fukushima area – showed at the Berlin festival – tries to explain: “It became almost an obligation to do something about the quake, to the point that doing something else was somewhat regarded as a sin,” he says.