This video, capturing the diverse views of four Fukushima activist farmers, screens beginning June 16 in the Rio+20 United Nations Sustainable Development Conference, where one of the main subjects of the documentary Uncanny Terrain, Seiji Sugeno, director of the Fukushima Organic Farmers Network, is presenting.
About Harvest interview with Ed M. Koziarski, Co-Director of Uncanny Terrain:
Filmmakers Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski spent five months inside Japan’s nuclear contamination zone, living and working with the farmers, researchers and volunteers.
AH: What was the impetus for you to start this documentary and when will it premiere?
EK: We knew we wanted to tell a story about the 3/11 disaster, and in researching the situation, we were intrigued by the deep sense of connection to the land that Fukushima organic farmers expressed in the wake of the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We plan to premiere next year.
AH: What outcome are you hoping your completed film will bring?
EK: We hope viewers will gain a better understanding of what it’s like for people in Fukushima, who are most often portrayed as merely tragic victims or intransigent. We hope some viewers will be moved to get involved, by reaching out to organizations in Fukushima, or by working for sustainable agriculture and alternative energy wherever they are.
AH: What educational support are the farmers and individuals in the Fukushima area receiving in regards to Environmental remediation?
EK:Many farmers are collaborating with various governmental and non-governmental agencies on environmental remediation. The science is not well-established, so ongoing research is a primary focus. Decontamination has proven very difficult so far, with major obstacles including waste disposal and recontamination. Some crops and fungi seem to be effective at removing radionuclides from the soil, but this doesn’t eliminate the radiation, it just concentrates it in another form that still needs to be disposed of. Farmers have had more success at reducing the amount of radiation their crops absorb. This effort is controversial, however, among people who believe reducing contamination will never be effective enough to ensure public health.
AH:In the process of filming Fukushima and other areas contaminated by nuclear fallout, what has surprised you the most?
EK: I have been struck by the resolve of the farmers to stay and work to recover their land in the face of staggering obstacles.
AH: What has been the most significant personal outcome for you as a result of your experiences filming in Japan since the events of 3/11?
EK: This is my first documentary after 15 years working in fiction film and journalism. I have been energized by the immediacy of using video to capture the stories and images of people whose lives otherwise may feel very remote. I want to continue working in this way.
It has also made me more conscious of how I eat, and a bigger supporter of organic local produce. And it has made me aware that environmental disasters like the one in Fukushima are more complex than they appear. People can be quick to jump to conclusions based on preexisting beliefs without considering the perspective of the people most directly impacted.
AH: From your perspective, what is the greatest need and how can people help the people of Fukushima now?
EK: I think the most important thing for anyone interested in helping is to talk directly with people there by contacting groups such as Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) (contact Toshiyuki Takeuchi) and the Fukushima Organic Farmers Network .
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