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Ann Arbor filmmaker documents stories of those living after the Fukushima nuclear accident

Mar 10, 2015

Credit Courtesy of Toko Shiiki

This week marks the four year anniversary of the magnitude nine earthquake that hit the coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami, leaving well over 15,000 people dead. The tsunami also caused the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Ann Arbor based filmmaker Toko Shiiki just made her first full-length film, Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima that illustrates life after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

It will be screened tonight at the  Helmut Stern Auditorium at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Here's a trailer:

Shiiki says she aimed to tell the stories of those who still live in Fukushima and why they have chosen to stay.

"There are people who want to share their story with people in other countries," Shiiki says.

The film features a former plant worker, a man who founded a small village near Fukushima in the 70s who is now the only remaining resident with his wife, along with a teacher and the students of a middle school. As she began to learn more about each of them, she discovered that they all shared a love of music.

"Interestingly, and beautifully, everyone played music for this film," Shiiki says.

While their hardships are unique, Shiiki says she believes everyone can relate to facing difficulty and the struggle to find their own happiness in life.

Shiiki says the film doesn't endorse living in Fukushima.

"I'm not saying Fukushima is safe, or this is the right way or this is the wrong way," she says.

She says nobody in the film makes a clear statement on whether living there or leaving is the proper choice. She says the film captures more of a "whisper" of their real feelings.

"I really hope each of you can sense that whisper, sense from their music, and then think from there what we can do for a better future together," Shiiki says.