Monday, March 13, 2017

Documenting the March 11 disaster: six years on

I marked yesterday, March 11, 2017, the six-year anniversary of the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Edmonton.  The event, sponsored by the Prince Takamado Japan Centre, University of Alberta and the Centre for Japanese Research, University of British Columbia (INFO), included a screening of the work-in-progress of my new documentary about the Fukushima nuclear disaster which I also screened earlier in the week at an event at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (INFO).


Attended both by students and professors from departments as diverse as Japanese studies and Film-making, the post-screening Q&A allowed me to hear how this work-in-progress is being seen and understood an opportunity for which I am extremely grateful. This was the second time for me to screen some of my Fukushima-based work in Edmonton, after having the honour of screening my films "A2-B-C" and "In the Grey Zone" during the Global Visions Film Festival (now called Northwestfest) three years ago (STORY).

Each year on the anniversary of March 11, I have reflected on some of the experiences I had in the days and months after the disaster framed around the short documentaries I filmed during that period. I have re-posted below two entries I would like to share again this year.

Thank you all for your continued support and for keeping those people still affected by these terrible events six years later in your thoughts and prayers.

Peace,
Ian Thomas Ash
Edmonton, Canada

   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

originally posted March 4, 2013 (LINK)

On March 13, 2011, two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I described the situation in Tokyo in an open letter to my friends and family (HERE).  I posted it along with a short documentary about panic buying and the following explanation:
I simply couldn’t stay inside today and just watch the news coverage, so I took my brother-in-law’s advice: I took my camera outside to see what was happening in my neighbourhood. The result is (this) ten-minute video about “panic buying”.
I could never have imagined at the time that this would be the first in a series of short documentaries that would eventually evolve into two feature films documenting the nuclear crises in Fukushima spanning the following two years.

As the two-year anniversary of the March 11 disaster approaches, I find myself reflecting on how it all unfolded.  As part of this reflection, I have re-visited my early documentaries and edited them together to see how my journey began.


   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

originally posted March 12, 2015 (LINK)

Documenting 3.11: the first ten days
My journey documenting 3.11 started with the first entry I wrote (HERE) and a short documentary I filmed about panic buying in Tokyo a couple of days after the disaster (story HERE).  This was followed by several short documentaries posted in quick succession.  A compilation VIDEO of all of these early short documentaries that I edited together and posted for the 2nd anniversary... and the accompanying guest blog published by Discovery News is HERE.  The full collection of my early short documentaries about the disaster is HERE and all of the guest blogs I wrote for Discovery News can be found HERE.

Documenting 3.11: One month later
After reading a newspaper article describing the government's plan to re-open schools near the zone 20-30km from the nuclear power plant just one month after the nuclear disaster, I traveled to Fukushima with friend and cameraman Colin O'Neill.  We documented the children living there, and soon after we returned to Tokyo we posted a four part "making of" documentary, beginning with this Video (part 1 below, all 4 parts HERE):


This would become my first feature documentary about the disaster, 'In the Grey Zone' (TRAILER below and website HERE):


Documenting 3.11: Six months later
Six months later while editing 'In the Grey Zone' in Japan with friend and colleague Ed Ison, Colin and I traveled back to Minamisoma City in Fukushima where we filmed an update that we posted in three parts (Part 1 story HERE and VIDEO below, stories about Part 2 HERE and Part 3 HERE, with all three VIDEOS HERE).


Documenting 3.11: One year later
For the 1st Anniversary of the disaster in March 2012, I filmed a three-part update about the children living in the 20-30km zone which I posted to my channel (Story Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE and Part 3 HERE, VIDEO part one below, all three videos HERE):


Documenting 3.11: Fifteen months later
A couple of months later, I returned to Fukushima, this time with friend and cameraman Koji Fujita, and in the summer of 2012, I posted two short films about the continuing nuclear disaster.  The first of these was 'Nuclear Refugees: the people of Iitate Village, one year later' (story HERE and VIDEO below):

The second short documentary I posted that summer was 'In Containment', a five-part series that documented some shocking revelations about life in Fukushima after the disaster and found me entering the no-go zone for the first time (VIDEO for Part 3 below and those for Parts 2, 3 and 4 HERE).  During the filming and editing of 'In Containment', I realized I was uncovering a story much larger story than just an "update", and that I had in fact started making a new film.  Parts 1 and 5 would eventually form the beginning of my second feature documentary about the Fukushima disaster, 'A2-B-C' (website ENGLISH/ 日本語).


 Documenting 3.11: The children in Fukushima

I continued filming throughout the autumn of 2012 and early winter of 2013, focusing on the children and families living in Fukushima.  Posting the trailer in February of 2013 (TRAILER below), it was serendipitous that the last day of editing I did on the film before handing it off to Ed and Colin back in the UK to finish the post-production was on March 11, 2013, the second anniversary of the disaster (STORY).

Documenting 3.11: The story continues
In between the continuing international and domestic screenings of 'A2-B-C', I am currently filming the follow-up to 'A2-B-C', in what will be the third film in my series about Fukushima.  Thank you all so very much for your continued support and encouragement.

                                               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Politics of Invisibility: Fukushima, 6 years after 3.11

Yesterday, the event "The Politics of Invisibility: Fukushima, 6 years after 3.11" (INFO) was held at the University of British Columbia with sponsorship from the Centre for Japanese Research.  I was honoured to present at the conference, which was organized by Geography Professor David Edgington.  I had the honour of presenting here two years ago also at the invitation of Dr. Edgington.

Split into two sessions, the lunchtime workshop began with Dr. Edgington's presentation "A day out in Fukushima: Reflections on a field trip to the Dai-chi Nuclear Power Plant" focused on his recent experience touring the crippled facility complete with photographs from inside the plant.  Dr. Matsui, Professor of Law, presented his talk "Restarting Nuclear Power Plants in Japan After the Fukushima Disaster", which focused on law, policy and public opinion regarding nuclear power in Japan following the meltdown.

In the evening, there was a screening of the work-in-progress of my documentary "Sezaruwoenai" ("Unavoidable", working title), which eventually will be the 3rd film in my series about young people living in Fukushima, following "In the Grey Zone" (2012) and "A2-B-C" (2013).  It was a rare and extremely meaningful experience for me to share this work-in-progress, and the feedback I received from this study session held at the university will stay with me as I move forward in thinking about the direction I will take with the film.
photo courtesy Savannah Li
At the lunchtime presentation preceding the screening, Dr. Edgington had asked me to focus on the plight of the so-called "voluntary evacuees" who are facing tough decisions as financial support for them is being terminated at the end of this month.  In addition to sharing about the press conference for which I served as the MC in January (INFO), I had decided the best way to for the audience to understand the situation for these families was through their own words.  I asked Noriko Matsumoto, who I had first met at the press conference, and another young mother who wished to remain anonymous (and whom I had met through one of the mothers who appeared in my documentary "A2-B-C") to write statements about how they would be affected by the termination of financial support for those who had chosen to leave Fukushima with their children.

Their statements, translated by Anthony Davis, are in full below:

================================================================

2017年3月1日
松本 徳子、避難者(川崎へ母子避難)

本日、朝日新聞にてトップに今まで避難指示区域に成っていた福島第1原発から20キロ圏内の一部の浪江町、川俣町、飯舘村そして富岡町と3月31日、4月1日と避難指示が解除される事に成ってしまいました。

この未々放射線量の高い地域に子ども達まで帰還をさせようとする国や福島県に何故避難の権利を与えないのか?

怒りと悲しみで言葉では上手く表現出来ません。しかし、そうなると私達の様な警戒区域外の避難者は更に避難の権利を得ることは難しく成り、これは人権問題です。どうすれば弱い立場の人、子ど、障害を抱える人達を助ける事が出来るのでしょうか?

いつも、経済豊かな人間達だけが権力を握り弱者を切り捨てる日本という国の愚かさに深い悲しみでいっぱいです。

何とか、正しい情報で子ども達を守りたい! そのためには是非沢山の方々のお力をお借りしたい。切に願います。

March 1, 2017
Noriko Matsumoto (evacuated to Kawasaki with her children)

Today, the lead article in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper stated that on March 31 or April 1, evacuation orders will be lifted for some areas within 20 kilometers of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant—the towns of Namie, Kawamata, Iitate, and Tomioka.

Why do the Japanese and Fukushima prefectural governments not give us the right of evacuation, instead attempting to return even children to these areas where the level of radiation is still high?

I am so angry and sad that it is difficult for me to express it in words. However, once this happens, evacuees like us from outside of the restricted zone will find it harder to obtain the right of evacuation, which is a matter of human rights. How can we help people in a position of weakness, and those who care for children or disabled persons?

I feel a deep sadness at the foolishness of Japan, where only the affluent ever hold power, and the weak are discarded.

I want to protect the children somehow, with accurate information! I hope for the support of many people to this end.

Translation: Anthony Davis, Kobe, Japan, March 2017

================================================================

2017年3月4日
新潟へ母子避難(匿名希望)


私が自主(母子)避難を決断した経緯には、以下の出来事を総合的に判断し決断に至った。
事故前の一般公衆の被ばく限度が年間1ミリシーベルト(毎時0.23マイクロシーベルト)と法律で定められていることを事故当時に知った。
福島市内の原発事故前の放射線量を毎時0.03マイクロシーベルトとすると・・・
2011年の事故直後は自宅の中でも毎時0.6マイクロシーベルト(平時のおよそ20倍)あり、外に出れば毎時2マイクロシーベルト(平時のおよそ66倍)以上が普通にあった。計算すると年間1ミリシーベルトなど、はるかに超えていた。これは異常なこと(法律違反)だと思った。
2011年4月19日福島県内で子供たちが屋外活動を行って良い基準値が年間20ミリシーベルト毎時3.8マイクロシーベルトになった。
それまで年間1ミリシーベルトだった基準値が20倍に引き上げられたのである。
5月からは教育員会が小中高生の屋外活動時間を1日3時間以内に制限する通知を出した。
4月29日には基準値の高さに抗議する小佐古敏荘内閣官房参与が辞任会見を行った。

『年間20ミリシーベルト近い被爆をする人は原子力発電所の放射線業務従事者でも極めて少ない。この数値を乳児、幼児、小学生に求めることは学問上の見地からのみならず、私のヒューマニズムからしても受け入れがたい』

小佐古敏荘内閣官房参与は涙ながらに主張した。
報道では、政府が『直ちに人体や健康に影響を与える数値ではない』と説明を繰り返す。
このほかにもあらゆる情報が錯乱する中、私は子供を安心して安全な環境で守りたい想いで、覚悟を決めて伊達市から新潟へ避難を決断したのである。

いま福島県は『復興加速化』の名のもとで避難者の切り捨てを始めている。
2015年6月福島県は2017年3月末で自主避難者の借り上げ住宅の提供打ち切りを発表した。自主避難者に対して無償で提供されていた住宅がなくなるのだ。
この5年間、福島県から新潟へ自主避難し、ゼロからのスタートだった。
地域の人に出会い、子供たちの学校を通し、沢山の優しさに支えられてきた。
5年でようやく積み上げた暮らしが奪わられ、被爆を避ける権利も奪われる。
福島では住宅敷地除染により放射線量は事故後の値よりも低下したが、事故前の数値には
達していなく、勘違いの安心感が広がっている。
国は東京オリンピックの開催2020年を見据えて避難指示解除や賠償の打ち切り、そして自主避難者の住宅支援を打ち切る方針を固めた。経済的に段階的な住宅支援の打ち切りを行い、貧困させてから帰還へ導き、切り捨てられていく国のやり方に強い憤りを感じる。
安部総理がオリンピック開催の為に発言した『アンダーコントロール』・・・ではなく
『ONE FOR AII AII FOR ONE』一人はみんなの為に、みんなは一人の為に・・・
このメッセージを安部総理に伝えたい。

安部総理は、東電は『アンダーコントロール』のもと、震災で大変な想いをした人々全てに『ONE FOR AII AII FOR ONE』一人はみんなの為に、みんなは一人の為に・・・支援を続けていると、発言を撤回し世界へのメッセージとして伝えてもらいたい。

かつて避難指示された人々は強制避難者と呼ばれた。
世間では自主避難という言葉を使っている。しかし決して自主避難ではない。
避難指示のあった『強制避難』に対し『自主避難』は自らが勝手に選択したという意味合いを持つため、本来は『避難指示指定区域外避難』というべきである。
措定外とされた自主避難者たちにいわば強制帰還、強制退去が行われようとしている。

今この福島で起こっている現実を全世界へ伝えたくこのメーセジとしたい。

March 4, 2017
Mother who evacuated with her children to Niigata (wishes to remain anonymous)

The background to my deciding to voluntarily evacuate (with my children) came after I comprehensively evaluated the incidents which I describe below.

At the time of the accident, I learnt that, previously, the radiation dose limit for the general public was stipulated by law as one millisievert in a year (or 0.23 microsievert per hour).

Before the nuclear power plant accident, the radiation level in Fukushima city was 0.03 microsievert per hour. Immediately following the 2011 accident, even inside homes, the level was 0.6 microsievert (approximately 20 times the normal level), and outside, the level was commonly 2 microsievert or higher (some 66 times the normal level). This amounts to levels far in excess of one millisievert per year. I thought that this was abnormal (and a violation of law).

On April 19, 2011, in Fukushima prefecture, the level at which children were permitted to engage in outdoor activities was changed to 20 millisievert a year, or 3.8 microsievert per hour. Thus, the former standard of 1 millisievert per year was raised to 20 times that level.

In May, the Board of Education issued notice limiting the outdoor activities of elementary, junior high, and high school students to a maximum of three hours per day.

On April 29, Toshiso Kosako, advisor to the Cabinet Office, held a press conference announcing his resignation in protest against the height of the levels. In tears, he stated the following:

“It is very rare even among the occupationally exposed persons to be exposed to radiation levels even near to 20mSv per year. I cannot possibly accept such a level to be applied to babies, infants and primary school students, not only from my scholarly viewpoint but also from my humanistic beliefs.”

The press repeatedly reported the government’s explanation that “the levels would not have an immediate effect on the human body or on health.”

Meanwhile, amid a confusion of various other information, I resolved to evacuate from Date city to Niigata, wanting to take care of my children in a safe environment in peace of mind. Now, Fukushima prefecture has started to discard evacuees, under the banner of “Acceleration of Reconstruction.”

In June 2015, Fukushima prefecture announced that it would stop providing rental housing for voluntary evacuees at the end of March 2017. The provision of free housing for voluntary evacuees will end.

Five years ago, when I voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima prefecture to Niigata, I had to start from zero. Many people were kind in their support, including local people I met, and those at my children’s school. But with the upcoming changes, the livelihood which I have finally built up after five years will be taken from me, and I will be deprived of my right to evacuation.

In Fukushima, decontamination of residential grounds has reduced radiation levels from the post-accident levels, and a false sense of security is spreading, even though radiation has not reached pre-accident levels.

With its eyes set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan is lifting the evacuation orders and discontinuing compensation, and it is firming up policy to end housing support for voluntary evacuees. I strongly resent that Japan is gradually cutting financial housing support, and forcing people into poverty, after which they are encouraged to return home and are then abandoned. Rather than the proclamation which Prime Minister Abe made for the Olympics that everything is “under control,” I want to convey a message to him of “One for all, all for one.”

I want Prime Minister Abe to retract his statement, and instead, I want him to tell the world that support will continue “One for all, all for one,” for all of the people who suffered so much from the disaster, while TEPCO was said to be “under control.”

People who were previously under evacuation orders were known as compulsory evacuees. The term “voluntary evacuation” is widely used. However, this is in no way voluntary evacuation. Using the term “voluntary evacuation” in contrast to “compulsory evacuation” implies that people made a choice of their own volition, therefore the term which should be used is “evacuation from areas outside of areas designated under evacuation orders.” Voluntary evacuees from outside of designated areas are being forcibly returned home, or forcibly evicted.

I want to tell the whole world that this is what is really occurring in Fukushima now.

Translation: Anthony Davis, Kobe, Japan, March 2017

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Marking Fukushima disaster in Canada

As the 6th anniversary of the March 11, 2011, triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown approaches, I am honoured to be traveling to two Canadian universities to participate in educational events.

I will be screening the work-in-progress of the third feature documentary in my series filmed in Fukushima.  With a working title of "Sezaruwoenai" ("Unavoidable"), it follows my films "In the Grey Zone" (2012) WEBSITE and "A2-B-C" (2013) WEBSITE.  While I do not know yet when the film will be finished and released, I am extremely honoured and grateful for the opportunity to screen "Sezaruwoenai" as a work-in-progress and to be able to both share the interviews in the film with the viewers and to receive feedback and comments of support from them that I can then share with the participants in the film.  I first screened an early cut of the film in Berlin last year at the IPPNW congress organized for the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl and the 5th anniversary of Fukushima (STORY).

Following the screenings in Canada, I will also be sharing statements from two young mothers who are so-called "voluntary evacuees"; that is, they have decided to evacuate from areas in Fukushima not officially under mandatory orders to evacuate.  With the government set to end financial support for such "voluntary evacuees" at the end of this month, these families are facing the painstaking decision of whether or not to return to Fukushima with their children.   More about these "voluntary evacuees" can be found in my post about a press conference for which I served as the MC at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in January (STORY).

On Wednesday, March 8, I will be presenting at the University of British Columbia at the workshop "The Politics of Invisibility: Fukushima, 6 years after 3.11" which is sponsored by the UBC Center for Japanese Research.  Two years ago, I had the honour of screening my film "A2-B-C" at the same event (STORY).


Then on Saturday, March 11, the 6th anniversary of the disasters, I will be presenting at the University of Alberta in Edmonton at an event sponsored by the Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research.  

It is an honour to take part in these activities being organized to educate and ensure that the events of March 11, 2011, are not forgotten.  

Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.

Peace,
Ian Thomas Ash
Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan

Friday, March 03, 2017

Events marking the 6th anniversary of 3.11 begin

It is hard to believe that the six-year anniversary of the March 11 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching.

Yesterday, I was honoured to serve as the MC for the press conference "Yoshiko Aoki, Fukushima storyteller" at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ press release HERE).  Although Ms. Aoki is a former principal of the Tomioka High School, located in one of the towns badly affected by the nuclear disaster, she began her speech by saying "I am not a politician, philosopher or professor.  I am speaking today as an ordinary citizen".

During the Q&A, when asked if she felt "abandoned" by the government, she replied "no".  Rather, Ms. Aoki said, since the accident, which she emphasized had been a man-made disaster, she had become more independent in her way of thinking and no longer depended on the government.  Now when a government official says something "stupid", she said she no longer even becomes angry as that is what she has come to expect.  Ms. Aoki's full comments and the Q&A that followed can be found on the FCCJ Channel here:


Then this morning (Thursday evening in the US) was the event "The Politics of Uncertainty: Reassessing Japan After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster" arranged by the Japanese Cultural Association at Brown University (event info HERE).

Following a screening of my documentary "A2-B-C" (WEBSITE), I was honoured to join via Skype the panel discussion, which included:
* Taro Kono - Member of Japan’s House of Representatives and Former Chariman of the National Public Safety Commission (via Skype)
* Kerry Smith - Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Brown University
* Daniel Aldrich - Director of the Security and Resilience Program at Northeastern University
* Ian Thomas Ash - Documentary Filmmaker and Director of "A2-B-C" (via Skype)
This was the first of several events I will be taking part in at universities holding events to mark the 6th anniversary of 3.11.

******** UPDATE March 6, 2017 ******

An article about the screening has been published by the Brown Daily Herald.  READ

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Motivation

***** UPDATE February 7, 2017 *****
"Suturing Cultures" is now On Demand free until Feb 20, 2017. Link HERE
********** 
Leading up to the broadcast of my new documentary "Suturing Cultures" (STORY), which will be premiering across the globe on the NHK World channel and website in a couple of days (broadcast INFO), I was asked to produce some promotional materials including a preview/ trailer and "director's interview".

For the "director's interview", I was told:
This is relatively free style. The director can speak about his motivation for making this documentary. You could also introduce yourself and speak about your social background, interests in general, etc.

After watching a few of the other director interviews, I decided to follow their approach of a piece-to-camera talking about their film and why they made it interspersed with footage from their documentary.  

Asking my friend to film so I could concentrate on what I wanted to say, I still could just not get it to come together in a natural or interesting way.  While I knew I was supposed to talk about my motivation for making the film, I also realized I didn't truly understand the full source of those motivations.  But I did know someone who might...

Re-reading the brief, the words "free-style" jumped out at me, and I decided to follow my heart.  I messaged my sister and when she called, I started recording.  Using old family photos to illustrate our conversation, the result has just been published and can be found on the bottom of the NHK World film page for "Suturing Cultures" (HERE) along with a preview for the film.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Imperial Hospitality (Part 2): Stories from The Imperial’s Bars and Lounge

In the background, I am always working on a project or two in addition to whatever is in the forefront.    Earlier this week I shared about my documentary "Suturing Cultures" which will be airing next week (story HERE and broadcast info HERE), and now I am pleased to share the next installment in the documentary-style series of videos I was asked to direct for the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, a luxury hotel with a deep-rooted history in Tokyo.
 
Featuring a tour of the Imperial's bars and lounges and filmed/ edited back in December, Part Two was published this week (with my accompanying column on the Imperial website HERE, a direct link to the video below, and more info on Part 1 HERE):
 
It is only through the support of an awesome team that I can be working on so many projects at once, and I would like to give a shout out to Matsudaira Naoyuki who shot and edited this piece.  While I wrote the music which is the same piece we used in Part 1, it was treated to a jazz arrangement by Onuki Yuichiro, who was also on piano, joined by Tani Motoaki on bass and Adachi Hiroshi on drums.
 
Part 3 is scheduled to be published in March.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Suturing Cultures

***** UPDATE February 7, 2017 *****
"Suturing Cultures" is now On Demand free until Feb 20, 2017. Link HERE
**********

Usually I do not speak much about the films I am working on until after they are completed.

The first draft of this blog began "I do not know why I usually do not speak much about the films I am working on until after they are completed".  But that would not have been true.  I do know why: it is because every time I begin a film, I am afraid I will fail.

Perhaps someday I will write more about how illuminating the process of making this film has been for me (about team dynamics, about being a producer, about perseverance) but for now I will simply say that I am extremely honoured and excited to finally be able to share more details (after THIS brief mention back in October) about my newest documentary, "Suturing Cultures".  It will be premiering world-wide on the NHK World channel on February 6 (or 5, depending on timezone), but don't worry if you don't have NHK World on your TV as you can watch it for FREE on your computer, smartphone or tablet (info HERE)!

At Juntendo University, the oldest medical school in Japan, Dr. Yuko Takeda is preparing young medical students for a career during which they will most likely see foreign patients in addition to Japanese ones. As these future doctors who come from a traditionally homogeneous society navigate issues of culture, religion and sexual orientation in English, the real lesson comes when they realize that what they are being taught is about how to become better doctors.

日本最古の医学部を有する順天堂大学において、武田裕子医師は、明日の医療を担う医学生に向けて日本人患者だけでなく、外国人患者も診ることができるようになるために教育を行っている。日本という「均質」な社会で暮らす医学生たちは、文化や宗教、性的指向の多様性に英語で向き合っていくのだが、それがより良い医者になるための道なのだと気づくとき、彼らは本当の学びを経験することになる。
This is the second documentary I have made for the NHK World series "Inside Lens", following last year's "Dying at Home" (INFO).  And while this film, like all of my recent films, also features a strong story line based around issues of health and medicine, the setting this time is not in a hospital or in a patient's home, but rather in Juntendo University, the oldest medical school in Japan.

I feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by an amazing creative team: editor Chris Huang, composer Komitetsu, an amazing NHK producer Yukari Harada (and many others), while working with awesome footage from the camera of Thomas Schlottman, who also shot "Dying at Home".  And it has been a poignant time as well as this also marks the last film on which my assistant, Rei, will be working.  Rei has been my right-hand for the past 18 months, but he is now going off to graduate school, well on his path to becoming a film director in his own right.

We are just a month into 2017, but this has already been one of the busiest times in my life.  And there will be more exciting news in the coming weeks as this was not the only work-in-progress I had waiting in the wings...

Thank you all so very much for your support and encouragement!