Documentary Project

Special features of the Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference included the first ever Documentary Project. Director Harold Crooks joined us to discuss his film Surviving Progress as well as Director Hitomi Kamanaka. Kamanaka’s session was open to the public and approximately 80 participants attended her showing of Rokkashomura Rhapsody and From Ashes to Honey. 

The purpose of the documentary project is to provide an additional method of information dissemination and idea sharing at Earth System Governance Conferences.

30 January 2013

16:00 – 17:30

Surviving Progress
Harold Crooks

Chair: Anne McDonald – Sophia University

Discussant: Luis Patron – UNU Media Center

A film by Mathieu Roy & Harold Crooks

Surviving Progress presents the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged. It reveals the grave risk of running the 21st century’s software — our know-how — on the ancient hardware of our primate brain, which hasn’t been upgraded in 50,000 years. With rich imagery and immersive soundtrack, filmmakers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks launch us on journey to contemplate our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers.



Rokkashomura Rhapsody & From Ashes to Honey 
Hitomi Kamanaka


Chair: Anne McDonald – Sophia University

Discussant: Luis Patron – UNU Media Center

About Hitomi Kamanaka:

In 1990, she directed her first film Uncle Suecha and with the fellowship from the Japanese Culture Agency, she studied at the National Film Board of Canada. She then worked as a media activist at Paper Tiger in New York. After returning to Japan, she shot many documentary programs for television.

Her 4th film Hibakusha—At the End of the World (2003) was screened at more than 400 places and won some awards. In 2006, Rokkashomura Rhapsody (2006) was internationally screened at more than 650 places.

She has been building up grassroots movement, with showing her film not just letting them go home but getting them involved by discussions.

Rokkashomura Rhapsody -OPEN TO THE PUBLIC-

Rokkashomura Rhapsody explores the community response towards the Plutonium Plant in Northern Japan (2006). 

In 2004 a reprocessing plant was completed in Rokkasho Village (Rokkashomura) for reprocessing spent fuel from nuclear reactors into plutonium. Leeward of the reprocessing plant, there stretches rich farmland.  Ms. Keiko Kikukawa has held an annual Tulip Festival the past 12 years to protest the Nuclear Fuel Recycling Project, and has led her life as an act of protest. Farmers in the neighboring villages, especially the ones who have been growing safe pesticide-free organic crops, have also been active against the nuclear project. On the other hand, Rokkashomura’s fishing village, Tomari, has a severe unemployment issue with fishermen out of work: the village has accepted the Recycling Project based on the pervasive idea that the project is needed for its economy and employment.

In 2005 there was an accident at a reprocessing plant in England.  What has come up mostly during the filming process was not the effect of the accident but rather the whereabouts of radioactive materials released daily since the plant was built 44 years ago. How can the common people rise against this overwhelming force and economic power? Their efforts, individual lives and choices will be on display.

From Ashes to Honey –OPEN TO THE PUBLIC-

The film begins in the small island community of Iwaishima in Yamaguchi Prefecture where the local people have been blocking the construction of the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant for nearly 30 years (though in 2008 the power company won a first approval that allowed it to only a few months ago begin an initial development stage).

She then travels to Sweden, a country that has been trying to phase out its dependence on nuclear energy since 1980. By showing clear examples of how both politicians and individuals in Sweden are striving to lessen their dependence on fossil fuels and instead live off of alternative energy — solar, wind, biomass — Kamanaka hopes to inspire communities in Japan to start small and work towards taking control of their own energy production.

For 28 years, the people of Iwaishima Island, living in the middle of the bountiful Inland Sea, have been opposing a plan to build a nuclear power plant. The island has a 1000-year history during which people have preserved their traditional festival. Takashi, the youngest on the island, is struggling to earn his living. He dreams of a life based on sustainable energy. Meanwhile, communities in Sweden are making an effort to implement  such lives. The people living in the Arctic circle have taken action to overcome damage from the global economy. On Iwaishima, Mr. Ujimoto has begun sustainable agriculture by reclaiming abandoned farmlands. But a power company tries to fill in a bay to create man-made land. The people of the island set sail together to stop the construction of the nuclear power plant. A fight breaks out on the sea.


Discussion Questions:

“What are the benefits and drawbacks of utilizing film as a tool for dissemination of academic research?”

“How can we better utilize the benefits of film within academic research without compromising the quality of academic research?”

“What has been the response towards the film from the different communities: academic, NPO, government, public?”

“What are some of the outcomes from showing this film to different communities?”

For additional information on the Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference, please e-mail us here:

Download “TC2013 Call for Documentaries” (1,203KB PDF)
Download “TC2013 Documentary Project Description” (190KB PDF)