Bitter condemnation
September 8, 2011 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Barizogon ("bitter condemnation") is a 1992 indie Japanese docudrama about Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants and is a dramatization of the life and "accidental" death in 1989 of the whistle-blowing Nao--a twenty-six-year-old who takes on crooked campaigning and a cover-up at the unsafe nuclear plant where everyone in Okuma works. The movie is available (with subtitles) on YouTube: Part 1. The whole series of YouTube videos are collected on this blog.

The movie, directed by Iwaki, Fukushima native Fumiki Watanabe, makes use of interviews, found footage, re-enactments, and the actual residents of Okuma, the area in Fukushima (now off-limits) that is home to the two reactor complexes, and outlines the collusion and corruption between politicians, police, construction contractors, the mafia, and local government following a series of accidents at the plants.

Of Watanabe, Nobuhiro Yamashita, director of Linda Linda Linda says:

There is a filmmaker named Watanabe Fumiki. He has his own projector and only goes to local culture centers and not in theatres. Very local and small cultural centers and that’s what he does. The films that he shoots and screens are maybe too much propaganda. What he does in terms of getting his film out there is very interesting and inspiring for other filmmakers in terms of getting the word out. It’s very scandalous with the amount of propaganda, and he gets arrested and fights with right wing group. What he does is very true to what he believes and I think that is very cool.

I myself saw Watanabe's presentation Barizogon at a community hall in Tsuruga, Fukui* (another nuclear town) in 1997.

*The purple plumes indicate recycled coolant streaming into Wakasa Bay along a 50 kilometer section of coastline.
posted by KokuRyu (5 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
There are actually a lot of Japanese educational and cultural films that only play in town culture centers. It's an easy way to make a film the basis for a town-wide discussion and thoughtful responses, as opposed to the mere entertainment of commercial theaters. If only America had cultural centers, instead of the destructive idea of political circlejerk films as commercial entertainment.

That being said, as a longtime pro-nuclear troll on MetaFilter, I wholeheartedly endorse this film and thank KokuRyu for bringing it to the attention of non-Japanese speakers.
posted by shii at 10:01 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Wow. I'd never heard of this filmmaker before. From his Japanese Wikipedia page, I get the impression that he's like the over-the-top indie version of Koji Wakamatsu... I'm kind of envious that you actually got to see one of his presentations, KokuRyu. How was it? Did you notice any police officers standing around like this blogger writes (photo of the director halfway down the page)?

This blogger says that Watanabe's works aren't given the recognition they deserve in part because of the poster with the copy "The village with a nuclear power plant. The female teacher was in love with the rotting corpse of a young man in the outhouse." (「原発のある村。女教員は便槽の若い青年の腐乱死体を愛していた…」) emblazoned at the top. It makes the film look like a cheap horror flick, and with the added handwritten notes tacked on to it that basically tell people they'll throw up during the screening doesn't encourage a fair assessment of the film itself. Though the first blogger I linked to says that the film caused a riot in Hiroshima, so perhaps the film really is pretty controversial (haven't seen all of the links yet, and I'm not sure I'm really up to it but I'll try...)? Thanks for the post, this was fascinating.
posted by misozaki at 2:14 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you, KokuRyu.
posted by krilli at 6:02 AM on September 9, 2011

It makes the film look like a cheap horror flick, and with the added handwritten notes tacked on to it that basically tell people they'll throw up during the screening doesn't encourage a fair assessment of the film itself.

Oh, the film won't make you throw up. When I saw that image I thought it was just more over-the-top promo by Watanabe. We saw it at the budo-kan in Tsuruga, next to a neighbourhood police station. Watanabe was pretty intense, but there was a quiet vibe in the room in spite of Tsuruga's status as "nuclear Ginza". The movie itself isn't graphic at all, and I suppose the only vomit-inducing aspects of it is the coverup of what was (according to Watanabe) so obviously a murder.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:13 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tangentially related: Sea Radiation from Fukushima Seen Triple of Prior Estimate
posted by saulgoodman at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2011

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