Greetings from Fukushima, a movie on the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, was shot on location, with the director Doris Dörrie even carrying a Geiger counter to monitor radiation levels
There have been numerous responses by Japanese artists and filmmakers to the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 and the subsequent tsunami. By contrast, Greetings from Fukushima, a 2016 feature by German director Doris Dörrie, gives a foreigner’s perspective on the disaster and its aftermath.
The film is also known as Fukushima, Mon Amour, a reference to Alain Resnais’ 1959 classic Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which was set amid the devastation of the atomic bomb. Dörrie’s film has a more straightforward structure than Resnais’ elliptical work.
In fact, Dörrie does not focus on the wider impact of the tsunami, instead limiting the story to a relationship between a troubled German girl and a grumpy Japanese woman, both of whom are trying to come to terms with events from their pasts. As Dörrie reveals more about her protagonists, the Fukushima tragedy plays into the main theme of overcoming grief to build a better future.
Marie (Rosalie Thomass) is a German street theatre artist who travels to Fukushima to entertain a small community of elderly people who have returned to a safe part of the exclusion zone around the damaged nuclear reactor. The job doesn’t work out but she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the elderly Satomi (prolific actress Kaori Momoi), who’s a geisha. Satomi moves back into her old house, which is still within the exclusion zone, and Marie reluctantly starts to visit her. By roundabout methods, the two women assuage each other’s grief.
“We lived there. We shot there. We never left the zone through the entire shoot. Everything [you see in the film] is the real thing,” Dörrie told thePostin an interviewin 2016. “Our main location is 11km away from the nuclear power plant.”
Greetings from Fukushimawill be screened on May 18 at the Hong Kong Film Archive,
in Sai Wan Ho, as part of the German Film Forum – Dangerous Times programme.