A movie whose production was halted by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture last year has finally made it to the big screen.
For a while, it was touch and go.
"Totecheeta Chikicheeta," which revolves around family ties against a background of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the crisis it triggered at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, had its premiere in Tokyo and Yokohama on April 7.
It was only due to the efforts of a group of film buffs in Fukushima Prefecture that the film was completed.
They pitched in with funds, residents filled in as extras and sites for the movie were chosen in the prefecture.
They wanted to show the world that not everything was lost in the disaster.
At a preview screening in Tokyo in late February, Masahiro Furukawa, the movie's producer, said, "While Fukushima has been truly damaged, we managed to create a movie that shows what things are like right now; not everyone is gloomy."
Furukawa, 50, is the fourth-generation owner of a Japanese confectionery company in Shirakawa that was founded in the Meiji Era (1868-1912). He has loved movies since his boyhood.
While managing a nonprofit organization for cultural promotion, Furukawa has spent the past eight years trying to make a small movie theater in Shirakawa a going concern.
He arranged screenings of popular movies at a municipal facility six times a year and hosted a movie festival in the summer. Through this activity, Furukawa has tried to publicize Fukushima Prefecture to those in the movie business around Japan.
Last June, Furukawa heard about a movie plan to be shot on location in Fukushima whose sponsor had pulled out because of the disaster.
Movie producer Tatsuko Kokatsu, 47, and her husband, Atsushi, 50, who is a movie director, reside in Date, Fukushima Prefecture. They were planning to shoot a movie in Fukushima about family ties.
They felt that a movie would best convey what was happening in Fukushima. Furukawa decided to provide assistance.
Production began after the Kokatsus agreed to two conditions set by Furukawa--that the shooting be done in Fukushima and that the screenplay included elements of the prefecture after the disasters.
The first thing Furukawa did was to tap his personal connections to find funding for the film.
He sought contributions from local governments and companies. He asked friends from his student days and other confectionery companies to purchase advance tickets to the movie.
With his own contributions, Furukawa was able to collect several tens of millions of yen.
Through his experience managing the NPO, Furukawa also helped scout for sites within the prefecture to shoot the scenes.
More than 300 local residents served as extras. After filming in Shirakawa, Date, Iwaki and elsewhere, the film was wrapped up last November.
The movie is a fantasy in which a woman's parents and older brother are reborn and reunited in modern Fukushima. The three had all died in World War II, but they are reincarnated.
The brother takes the form of a man who meets a mysterious young girl in Tokyo. The man finds works in Fukushima, which also happens to be where the girl's father was born. A high school boy who evacuated due to the nuclear accident also appears. It turns out the boy is the reincarnation of the father, while the young girl is the mother. All three are reunited with the now much older woman and the four spend the time they have left in the woman's life together as a family.
The older brother is played by Kosuke Toyohara. The role of the younger sister went to Chieko Matsubara.
There are no scenes in the movie of the devastation from last year's disasters and the word "radiation" also is not uttered.
The only references to the current situation in Fukushima are when characters speak such lines as "Why are you in Fukushima now?" and "I hope we can return someday."
Hoping that many people from outside of Fukushima will view the movie, Furukawa said, "The future can be changed if we lead our lives to the fullest. This is a work that expresses the feelings of Fukushima."
The movie is being shown at the Ginza Cine Pathos in Tokyo and the Yokohama New Theater. There are plans to screen the movie in the Tohoku region and Nagoya.
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