Monday, April 11, 2011

One month today

It is one month today that the earthquake and tsunami hit.

So much has changed in this time. There are the things that have changed for Japan, and especially the people of Tohoku. And there are the things that have changed within us.

This country will be forever changed. And so will we.

This past week, amid so many aftershocks, amid so many questions I have found it hard to keep my focus. "What is the purpose in all of this?" I ask myself.

It is this 'purpose' I am searching for when filming.

For a moment today I felt as if I should have filmed something to commemorate the one month anniversary of this terrible event. But that is too clinical, too orderly, too clean a thing to do for me.

The chaos of the last month will not be neatly fitted into compartments labeled "One Month", "Six Months", "One Year". And the same is true for our feelings as well. People's feelings aren't fixed as easily as the words "doing better", "getting over it" and "healed" would have us believe is possible.

It is one month today that the earthquake and tsunami hit.

I want to tell you something meaningful and hopeful and insightful and significant about this milestone. And yet, all I can tell is that today we are marking one month since the terrible events of March 11.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

What to film next?

I never know what I am going to film next.

In the beginning, whether it was the panic-buying of toilet paper in my neighbourhood or the wasteful uses of electricity by big corporations while the rest of lived in fear of rolling blackouts, I just began by filming whatever was happening around me without much planning.

Even when the opportunity to travel up north to the tsunami-devastated city of Ishinomaki came about, I simply went up there to film what I saw without really knowing how I was going to put it together as a documentary.

I never know what I am going to film next.

Last week, my sister forwarded me some e-mails written by ENS Margaret Morton, a sailor in the US Navy who is stationed on the destroyer the USS Mustin. These e-mails offered a first-hand account of her ship's contribution to the rescue and relief effort immediately following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. I spoke with Margaret by phone this week and our conversation and excerpts of her e-mails are accompanied by images captured by the crew of the USS Mustin.

Today I have been thinking about how interesting Margaret's story is. The truth is, it hadn't really occurred to me to document what the US service members stationed in Japan were doing until I read her e-mails.

And even as I have just finished Margaret's story, I am left wondering:

What am I going to film next?

The death and destruction in the north becomes clearer with each passing day, and I continue to think about how best to document the growing fears of radiation contamination and the increasing numbers of displaced refugees that have been evacuated from around the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

In the meantime, I bring to you a moment of hope in Margaret's story.

And like I said:

I never know what I am going to film next.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

On the big screen

As I wrote in my post from a couple of days ago, my film "Jake, not finished yet" had its first public screening in the UK this week.

Although I wasn't able to attend as I am documenting the current situation here in Japan, we turned the event into a fundraiser for an earthquake relief fund.

I haven't heard the final tally on the amount raised, but I am so grateful to all involved for their contributions.

Here is a photo (courtesy of Claudio Ahlers) that was taken during the post-screening discussion. I joined from Tokyo via Skype at the stimulating time of!