Fukushima, mon amour
- English subtitles
What’s a clown doing in the area around Fukushima, which was ravaged by a nuclear disaster? It may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but for German filmmaker Doris Dörrie it’s the premise of a melancholy reflection on the grieving process.
In the first part of Fukushima, mon amour, we only see the protagonist, young German Marie, in her clown make-up. She travelled to Japan for the charity Clowns4Help (based on Clowns Without Borders, whose director Moshe Cohen can be seen in a supporting role), to perform for the people who lost their homes in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Five years after the disaster, time seems to have stood still in the area around the nuclear reactor. The top layer of soil that was affected by radiation may have been scraped off, but the earth-filled garbage bags are still there, neatly stacked in rows. And even though a large part of the area was declared safe again by the government, there’s still a long way to go before it is actually habitable again.
The film was actually shot in the disaster area, with a constant eye on the Geiger counter.
German director Doris Dörrie has a close connection with Japan. She made several films there before, and by her own account she has travelled there over 25 times. The Fukushima disaster affected her. But her intense black-and-white film – which was actually filmed in the disaster area, with a constant eye on the Geiger counter – is about so much more.
Marie has her own traumas to bear. They obviously don’t weigh up against what the people in Fukushima have had to endure, but personal trauma is never relative. It’s not until she and elderly geisha Satomi venture deeper into the radiation area to rebuild something, that she can start her own process.
Joost Broeren (translation by Marjan Westbroek)