English version of 3/11 disaster documentary to be screened in Tokyo, London

March 04, 2013

By MICHIKO KAWAHARA/ Senior Staff Writer

In February 2012, documentary filmmaker Kenji Aoike released a film with first-person accounts from elementary schoolchildren in Miyagi Prefecture who survived the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The film explores the feelings and anxieties of kids, parents and teachers from Kadonowaki Elementary School in Ishinomaki, which was gutted by fire after tsunami inundated the school building the previous year.

Now, former teachers from schools in Miyagi Prefecture have helped make an English language version of "Sangatsu Juichinichi o Ikite" (Living Through March 11, 2011), which will be screened in Tokyo and London this month.

On the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake, schoolkids and teachers fled on foot to higher ground as a wall of water approached the school.

They reached safety, but some who had returned home perished.

"A friend of mine asked me, 'Is my mother still alive?' " said a child in the documentary. "I almost started crying."

One of those who helped get the documentary translated into English is 74-year-old Kazuo Abe, who lost more than 50 relatives and friends to the disaster.

"I myself was allowed to survive because I was in upland by chance," says Abe, a former superintendent of schools in the city. "Survivors have to pass down what happened here."

A sequel to the film was also made that follows the lives of the former Kadonowaki children as they continue their studies at a different school for one year after the disaster.

"Tsunami no Ato no Jikanwari" (Time schedule after tsunami) was shown to the public last summer, but has yet to have an English version made.

Screening of the English version will start at 10:30 a.m. on March 5 at Theater Pole-Pole Higashi-Nakano in Tokyo. Tickets cost 1,500 yen ($16) each. It will be also shown at Sakurai pharmacy central hall in Sendai at 7 p.m. Tickets to that cost 1,000 yen each.

The London screening will be at a charity cultural festival held by Aid for Japan on March 11. It is also scheduled to be shown in Edinburgh on March 16.

Abe says it is important that people abroad see the documentary.

"The tsunami is not an event only for Japan," he says. "I want to tell people worldwide who have offered aid how we lived through that day."

Aoike is well known for a documentary he produced on the Jan. 17, 1995, Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck the Kansai region and left more than 6,000 people dead.

By MICHIKO KAWAHARA/ Senior Staff Writer
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The Kadonowaki Elementary School amid tsunami debris on March 18, 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The Kadonowaki Elementary School amid tsunami debris on March 18, 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • The Kadonowaki Elementary School amid tsunami debris on March 18, 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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