A New Moon Over Tohoku examines shattered lives in wake of tsunami and Fukushima meltdown

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      A documentary by Linda Ohama. In English and Japanese, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable

      Long-time Vancouverite Linda Ohama’s breakthrough film, 2001’s Obaachan’s Garden, connected her to the Japanese roots she didn’t really know she had, as she researched and retold her grandmother’s story.

      Ohama later started spending more time in Japan, and understood that she had to return after witnessing from afar the devastating aftereffects of the 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown in the northeast region of Japan’s main island, known as Tōhoku.

      The Alberta-born writer-director spent over two years interviewing survivors of the Fukushima disaster, recording their frightful stories and travelling with them to where the worst happened, and to the places they ended up. She took about the same amount of time to assemble the partially crowd-funded film, which not only looks at the specifics of what these people and places went through but also explores which strains of Japanese culture proved the most implacable, or vulnerable.

      On this 90-plus-minute tour, Ohama talks to—among many others—a brave woman who got separated from her husband, a fishing family fighting to keep its coastal way of life, and an old-timer upholding the samurai tradition and its threatened artifacts.

      This New Moon shines a light on individuals who have worked hard to fix their own place on the planet. But it also suggests, indirectly, how governments should not respond to crises at least partially of their own making.

      Forced to live in rough encampments since the tsunami, many of these people have had to move to other parts of Japan or, worse, are being told to return to their still-radioactive ghost towns or lose the stingy subsidies they’ve lived on until now. For some, the waves never fully recede.

      Watch the trailer for A New Moon over Tohoku.