A Fukushima born artist journeys into Japan’s nuclear winter revealing the warmth and strength of survivors coping with the fallout.
The film: When the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant began to unfold Fukushima native Shimpei Takeda had been living in New York for 10 years working as a visual artist. As he began to understand what was happening to his birthplace a deeper need awoke in him which compelled him to speak beyond his personal art and address the unfolding nuclear calamity that was engulfing his home. Once in Fukushima Cpm-703 provides an in-depth portrait into the lives of a population living under the constant threat of radiation.
Cpm-703 (documentary, expected length, 70 mins, Cpm-703 is a working title), a TIME Magazine Lightbox sponsored project & previewed on the Guardian, follows Takeda from New York into the heart of Fukushima’s nuclear winter as he uncovers and, through an ingenious process, exposes the soil that has tainted his heritage on photosensitive paper. As he journeys into the symbolic heart of the region he connects with the land, fulfilling his deeply personal reasons for embarking on his project, Trace. Along the way he discovers a population living amidst the fallout. By following Mr. Takeda’s journey Cpm-703 explores the strength and love of a people who are committed to their land and will never abandon it despite the dire consequences to their lives.
Shot through a humanistic lens that is both epic and intimate Cpm-703 portrays the ongoing crisis at Fukushima not merely as a Japanese loss, but as a loss for our collective humanity. It is part cautionary tale about the perils of our reliance on nuclear energy and part meditation on the need to preserve our natural sanctuaries around the globe.
In a time where our natural environment faces increased threats daily, Fukushima represents all of our backyards.
What Your Generous Support Will Fund
All funds will go directly to the production of Cpm-703
· Sound mix
· Color correction
· Transportation to and within Japan
A Note From the Director
Last August I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Fukushima while filming the initial scenes for Cpm-703. During my time there I lived in a small room on a mountain peak that overlooked the rice fields (now barren) that Fukushima is famous for. Gazing over the vista I felt a personal connection to the land owing to Japanese landscape art that has been in my life from an early age.
Making a documentary with Shimpei as a main character was the perfect way to tell the narrative of what was lost to the meltdown. At first glance Shimpei’s work is abstract. When he showed me what he was doing in his darkroom in New York I thought I was looking into the night sky, a portrait of our milky way. When the realization came that I was actually looking at a cameraless photograph of the soil of his ancestors I thought about all of the Japanese influences in my own life and how his art he connected me to them. Through his personal journey I have embarked on my own. This film fuses those together and introduces us to a community whit tremendous strength and heart. When I return to Japan this week I will focus again on them, sending frequent updates here.....so pelase stay tuned.
Lastly, by introducing the audience to the rich landscape of Fukushima and connecting them with a cast of characters that are so emblematic of the Tohoku region’s warm spirit I hope that this film will make people think about what is environmentally precious in their own lives.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The shooting of this project definitely is a challenge and not without risk. Because I am working in a location that is a nuclear fallout zone there are times when I am near very elevated levels of radiation. Shooting in such demanding situations must be swift and well thought out because lingering too long can have serious consequences. But I believe it's worth it. I don't have to live with the consequences every day. Those in Fukushima do. Through their stories I hope that we think about our own environment and make wise choices about how we want to live.
As with any film, post production is always a great and costly challenge. To mitigate cost I've assembled an amazing team who believes passionately in the project and are donating some of their time to the sound and color correction. Dedication and heart have been a centerpiece of this project and that will be evident in every pristine frame.
I will be distributing this film through all the traditional channels of festivals and broadcast. But, looking beyond that, I want this film to be seen by communities in rural areas. A major theme of this film is that Fukushima is all of our backyards. The film will screen across the world in people's backyards and gardens bringing communities together to think about the environment.
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