Kyoko Miyake’s personal reflection on the Fukushima disaster debuted at Hamburg in 2013. Other festival play has included Dok Leipzig, EBS Doc, and DocPoint.
Miyake’s family hails from Namie, a fishing village whose residents reluctantly supported the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant when faced with a declining local industry. In the wake of the 2011 earthquake and nuclear accident, Namie has become a ghost town. Miyake follows her Aunt Kuniko back to the village to revisit her home and her various businesses – which included a funeral home, wedding planning business, and bakery – left abandoned in the aftermath. Part of the older generation turned atomic refugees, Kuniko has been slow to accept the reality that she won’t be able to return and rebuild her community and sources of livelihood. As Kuniko faces the harsh facts while surveying the damage, her experiences prompt Miyake’s own reckoning with the benefits and risks of nuclear power. The film is strongest when it’s focused on Kuniko, an appealing presence and point of identification; it falters in indulging too much of the filmmaker’s musings, which drag the proceedings down.