News from the Locarno Festival

The Answer Is Floating on the Sea

The Answer Is Floating on the Sea




When the March 11, 2011 earthquake hit the Tohoku Coast in Japan, followed by a giant tsunami, it was the strongest earth tremor ever to strike Japan, and one of the five most powerful ever registered in the world. The accident caused a number of nuclear accidents, mainly the level 7 meltdowns at three reactions in the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant complex – residents within a 20-kilometre radius were evacuated.

The following day a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,867 deaths, 6,109 injured, 2,909 missing, as well as 129,225 buildings totally collapsed, 254,204 half-collapsed and 691,766 partially damaged. 4.4 million households were left without electricity, 1.5 million without water.

Japanese directors Kou Sakai and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (whose feature debut, Passion/2008, was selected for the San Sebastian International Film Festival) were both in Tokyo when it happened. They were both puzzled by the question why people continue to live in regions which are constantly hit by tsunamis and in some places are under threat of a nuclear catastrophe.

The Sound of the Waves (Nami No Oto) – their documentary which has its international premiere in the Fuori concorso at the Festival del film Locarno – starts with a visit to and old lady and her sister living in Tohoku, relecting upon their tsunami fears. Their Taro district was struck in 1896 and 1933, and also severely damaged by the recent earthquake.

Sakai and Hamaguchi drive southward along the Rias coast of the Tohoku region, meeting a lot of inhabitants who talk about their damages from the natural disaster –  extremely different, completely depending on the location of their homes, ie the distance from and height over the sea. Are they broken-hearted people liven in broken lands?

The directors ask their question to a fire-fighter, a woman who lost her friend, the head of a temporary refuge, a married couple who drifted in their house on the tsunami for seven kilometres, and two young sisters living in an area which could be exposed to nuclear radiation – and everywhere they are met with no answer.

The Sound of Waves (Nami No Oto)
at PalaVideo
3-4 | 8 | 2012, at 11am

Jorn Rossing Jensen

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