You really wouldn’t expect a documentary screened early on a Sunday afternoon to end up being the highlight of the Shinsedai Cinema Festival. That is indeed the case for Hiroshimi Nagasaki Download, which went on to win the audience award for the festival.
The film begins with the ringing of a loud and lingering bell, followed by archive footage of the atomic bomb drops onto Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the World War II. This documentary follows the director Shinpei Takeda and his friend and producer Eija Wakamatsu as they travel across North America to seek out and interview the hibakusha – people who have survived these horrific attacks.
About 18 atomic bomb survivors were interviewed for this documentary, with about five of these individuals being featured front-and-centre. Each of the survivors are introduced with the same toll of the bell that started off the film and each would recall their experiences of the bombings, with many breaking down with emotion.
It is interesting to note that many of the survivors interviewed were children at the time of the bombings. Many were also actually born in the US and were sent to Japan by their parents for their education. One common element with many of the survivors is that they found it hard to adapt after the bombing, with some even being mistreated after coming to the US (i.e. one survivor went to the hospital for food poisoning, but because he couldn’t speak English and was a survivor, it was assumed to be radiation poisoning).
In between interviews with the survivors, the filmmakers are trying to come to terms with these unbelievable stories that they are “downloading.” There was some quite horrific details revealed in these stories that are sure to affect the view, just as much as they affected the filmmakers.
Overall, I have to say that Hiroshima Nagasaki Download was an excellent documentary about the challenges the atomic bomb survivors still face in learning to adapt.
9 | REALLY LIKED IT
After the screening, there was a discussion with a real Hiroshima survivor, who is living in Toronto, which was just as intriguing as the film itself.