Peter Machen spoke to leading German filmmaker Doris Dörrie about her remarkable film Fukushima, Mon Amour which screened at the Durban International Film Festival as part of the German Focus last week.
One of Germany’s leading filmmakers, Doris Dörrie has made several films set in Japan. Her latest film takes place in the evacuated zone of Fukushima where an older geisha has returned to her home in the company of a young German woman who has traveled to the area with a foreign aid organisation.
On 1 January 2016, the Japanese government decided to open the zone again because, says Dörrie, they did not want to pay the subsidies for the refugees. “People were being asked to move back, but there was nothing to move back to. So that became the nucleus of the film’s story – this old lady goes back to her destroyed house. And there’s nothing there. Nothing whatsoever.“
And was she concerned about the impact on her own long-term health and that of her crew?
“We shot in the former zone for six weeks and I was there for three months. But by then, we had done so much research. I had taken dust samples and I had gotten them analysed by the German Institute for Radioactivity and they had assured me again and again that it would be alright to take a crew there and spend several weeks there. I really tried very hard to be on the safe side because I didn’t want to take on the responsibility for the entire team. I couldn’t do that.”
“So we made very, very sure that it was going to be okay. We all wore dosimeters that keep collecting the accumulated radioactivity that you’re exposed to. And we sent them in after we got back to Germany and we were just lucky that the readings turned out to be totally okay. That was, of course, a bit of luck also. It’s of course not safe to dig in the ground, to sit under a tree, to eat berries. All of that is not safe, of course not.”
Read more at In Conversation with Doris Dörrie by Peter Machen