American documentary filmmaker living in Japan won award in Nippon Connection Film Festival for the film about the children in Fukushima
Ian Thomas Ash started his life in Japan as an English teacher, living in the countryside of Tochigi for three years. He then attended film school in the UK, after which he returned to Japan where he is currently living in Tokyo. After the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, he has avidly documented the people and their lives affected by the Tsunami and the nuclear accident, hoping to send their voices to the world.
On June 10, 2013, his latest film “A2” had its world premier at the NIPPON CONNECTION film festival in Frankfurt, Germany, the world's biggest Japanese film festival outside of Japan. The director won the prestigious “Nippon Visions Award” at the festival. “A2 “ is a documentary film about children, parents and communities in Fukushima, shaken by thyroid abnormalities thought to be a result of the radioactive iodine which was released by the nuclear accident.
The word “A2” means the category of cyst that indicates “further screening and exam required” on the thyroid abnormality scale for children age 0 to 18. The thyroid screening examinations are organized by Fukushima prefecture and Fukushima medical university. Thyroid screening has been considered critically important to detect earlier stages of thyroid abnormalities for the 360,000 children in Fukushima who were exposed to radiation in March, 2011. Ash has carefully collected and woven the voices of the children and their parents who are concern about their health and future. Feeling deceived and misled by the government, health professionals and TEPCO, the parents are frustrated and feel that they are not being heard or acknowledged by the rest of the society.
Trailer of “A2” is viewed on Ash’s website.
Ash filmed comments of the audience who watched “A2” at the World Premiere in Germany in response to a woman in the audience who raised a question on how to share her sincere feelings with the mothers in the film. These messages with Japanese subtitles (the video below) are sent to Fukushima mothers who appeared in the film. You can see the viewers comments, including the messages of a doctor who visited the 30 km evacuation zone in Fukushima and a young Chernobyl evacuee, then a small child at the moment of the Chernobyl accident.
Ash recently made a short video that looks back ar the past 2 years, starting from Day 3 after the meltdown of the reactor.
‘Two years after the March 11, 2011 disaster: looking back ‘
Ash began to film local people and their lives in Tokyo and Tohoku right after the earthquake 2 years ago and has made many films on the physical and psychological impact of the 3.11 disaster on people’s lives. He continues on his filming journey about how the disaster is affecting the people in Japan.