YIDFF 2013 Cinema with Us 2013
The Will—If Only There Were No Nuclear Plants
An Interview with Toyoda Naomi, Noda Masaya (Directors)

Finding Meaning in a Documentary—Beyond the Filmmaker’s Intentions

Q: Your film documented the 800-day period in Fukushima following the earthquake and nuclear accident. What were things like at the beginning of the filming?

Noda Masaya (NM): In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, there was always something going on somewhere, and we had our hands full just trying to film and record the things that happened each day.

Q: Are you still covering the situation?

Toyoda Naomi (TN): This film is a record of the events up until April 2013, but we still continue to film and research what is happening. When we screened our documentary at this film festival, a dairy farmer who had appeared in the film came to see it. He said that seeing the movie had “reaffirmed the importance of documentation” for him, and he told us that it was our duty to continue our filming. We were grateful for what he had to say, and as long as people are willing to appear in our films, we’ll continue to make them.

Q: What message do you want to send with this film?

TN: Our film wasn’t intended to be an exposé of something. We wanted to offer a portrait of these people who found themselves in circumstances in which it was very unclear what was going on, but who still had to go on living in the midst of this uncertainty. We cannot allow ourselves to forget that these people existed, and still exist. To ensure that we do not forget, we will continue to document and make films about this.

NM: When you watch the film, you can see that in the time right after the nuclear accident, our cameras were focused on the damage itself. However, our focus gradually began to shift towards documenting the humanity of individual people. We began to film the side of people that came to the fore as a result of all that they suffered in the wake of the nuclear disaster—such as the bonds that held them together, and their love for each other and their community—and the film became more of a human documentary. We will continue to offer a personal portrait of these people as we document how they go on with their lives.

Q: Do you intend to make all of the footage you recorded available for public view?

NM: After watching the film again, I realized that the more time passes, the more we can recognize the value of the footage—including that which was not included in the film—taken in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Just as I can now see the value in this footage that was taken two years ago, perhaps some of the footage, whether or not it was included in the film, may prove to be of great importance twenty or thirty years in the future. I believe that this is the power of film, the power of recorded images, and the power of the documentary.

TN: To continue on that theme, the power of a documentary is not always fully visible even to the filmmaker, but may become newly apparent when the documentary is viewed by another person from a different perspective. Sometimes people shine a spotlight on parts of our films that we had never intended to emphasize.

NM: I think there will be many things that only become visible with the passage of time. We used almost no images of the area within the 20-km exclusion zone in this film, but we do in fact have a lot of footage that was taken right after the accident. We excluded that material from this film because it wasn’t in keeping with the theme, but we hope to be able to make it public in some form in the future.

(Compiled by Fujikawa Kiyohisa)

Interviewers: Fujikawa Kiyohisa, Ukai Sakurako / Translator: Kato Lisa Somers
Photography: Nomura Yukihiro / Video: Muroya Toyoko / 2013-10-12