Kajino and Koziarski traveled to Fukushima, Japan, shortly after the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, to live and work with farmers fighting to continue growing organic food on land contaminated by the fallout.
Screening are the episodes Defiance, Arising, and Renewal.
84-year old Teruo Yasukawa is the only farmer growing rice in Minamisoma, Japan, where authorities imposed a growing ban over fears of contamination from the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 20 km away.
Seiji Sugeno fights to keep alive his village of Towa in the foothills of Fukushima, as farms fail amid fears of radioactive fallout and Sugeno worries for the health of his daughter Mizuho, who is poised to take over his farm.
Born in the Tokyo suburbs, Akihiro Asami is one of the only farmers in the tiny mountain village of Wasetani, on the outskirts of Fukushima, where trace amounts of contamination from 2011’s nuclear meltdown compound existing issues with an aging population and struggling economy. Asami’s wife Harumi and two young daughters evacuated in the wake of the meltdown, but returned a year later, choosing the health risk over the alienation of living as an evacuee. They’re working to build a sustainable community with their neighbors, rooted in traditional farming and artisanal practices that utilize the area’s rich natural resources. In 2014, Akihiro runs for mayor of the surrounding city of Kitakata, calling for a complete transformation of the local economy based on the principles he practices as an organic farmer.
2013 greetings from Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski of Homesick Blues Productions, the filmmakers behind the ongoing documentaryUncanny Terrain, about organic farmers in Fukushima, Japan fighting to hold onto their land and their livelihoods in the face of nuclear fallout.
We are well into editing footage from our first two years of production.
We are gearing up to return to Fukushima to capture the farmer’s ongoing struggle to build a healthier, more sustainable food supply, two years after the Great Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 and the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Please check out our work at these valuable conferences if you’re in the area.
Update from Fukushima
Organic farmer Seiji Sugeno is fighting to keep alive his mountain village of Towa, whose economy is ravaged by the aftermath of the nuclear disaster two years ago. Sugeno is convinced that human contact is the key to overcoming public fears of Fukushima produce, so he travels Japan explaining Fukushima farmers’ efforts to reduce radioactive contamination and sustain the land their ancestors have cultivated for generations.
Sugeno’s 24-year-old daughter Mizuho has launched the Seed of Hope Company to welcome guests from across Japan and internationally to visit their idyllic Playing-with-Clouds Farm and experience the life their family is fighting to protect.
Masami Yoshizawa, who kept his 300 cows alive inside the nuclear evacuation zone in defiance of a government kill order, despite losing many cows to an outbreak of disease, has seen his herd grow to 350 with new births and the adoption of strays from neighboring farms. Possibly in retaliation for his outspoken activism and media presence, Yoshizawa lost his permit to enter the evacuation zone. The day before Yoshizawa and his team were set to give up and release the herd, he reversed course and set out to confront the officials who had denied his permit, and demand the right to continue caring for his cows.
As new disasters turn the eyes of the world and Japan away from Fukushima, Uncanny Terrain continues our journey with Yoshizawa and the Sugenos and the other farmers who struggle every day to find a way to live in tune with a natural environment compromised by manmade catastrophe.
Kartemquin Films’ Diverse Voices in Docs
Uncanny Terrain codirector Junko Kajino has been invited to join Diverse Voices in Docs, a new program of pioneering Chicago documentary producers Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago, designed to develop talent among Chicago’s minority nonfiction filmmakers. Diverse Voices in Docs is supported by the Joyce Foundation, The Academy for Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and Kat Lei Productions.
We have launched two new documentary projects. One project follows two very different high school rap groups in Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood.
The other project explores one Chicagoan’s efforts to replace Syria’s embattled Assad regime with a fledgling democracy.
Thank you to everyone whose contributions have allowed us to get this far. We continue to accept tax-deductible donations toward the ongoing production, post-production, and eventual release of Uncanny Terrain. Here’s how. We remain, as ever, deeply grateful for your support.
Thanks to Our Translators
We send our profound gratitude to our international team of volunteer translators, who have been invaluable to our editing process by producing English-language transcripts from hundreds of hours of Japanese-language footage.
Thank you to Meg Kajino, Eugene Kobayashi, Peter Arbaugh, Yo Shin, Noriko Hopkins, Kazari Getz Kikuchi, Hiroshi Yasuda, Alice Tallents, Ayaka Maekawa, Chris Watts, Hiroko Uenushi, Mari Kawade, Naoki Izumo, Priscilla Watson, Tomoko Nakano, and especially Miki Takada, who has translated 16 days worth of footage!
If you’re still working on a file, or I’ve left your name off this list, please let me know. There are still many files left to translate, so if you can help, or you know someone who can, please drop us a line or spread the word.
Along with Junko Kajino, occasional Reader contributor Ed M. Koziarski is codirector of Uncanny Terrain, a documentary about effects from last year’s tsunami and nuclear crisis on Japan’s rice farmers. This preview screening event includes music by Tatsu Aoki and his band the Miyumi Project, and David Tanimura shows digital collages about the nuclear threat. RSVP required; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
All this for no cover charge! But a portion of art sales and all donations benefit our return to Japan in March to capture the first anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown. If you’re coming, be sure to rsvp here or here.
Can’t miss the first half of the Superbowl? Not in Chicago? We still invite you to make a tax-deductible donation to fund the completion of the film.
Make checks payable to our new fiscal sponsor, Asian Improv aRts Midwest (AIRMW), c/o Japanese American Service Committee, 4427 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60640 (memo: Uncanny Terrain).
One steamy day last July, Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski found themselves in Fukushima, Japan, hiding beneath a tarp in the back of a pickup truck full of cow feed. The farmer behind the wheel smuggled the filmmakers into a government-mandated 20-kilometer evacuation zone that became highly contaminated with radioactive cesium after a massive earthquake 43 miles off the city’s coast in March. The quake triggered tsunami waves that smashed into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing meltdowns of three reactors.