Nuclear Nation Charts Futaba, Japan’s Meltdown


Though mentioned only once, Hiroshima and Nagasaki loom large over Nuclear Nation, an assured and sobering documentary that charts the situation in Futaba, Japan, shortly after the 2011 meltdown at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Due to the catastrophic infrastructural damage wrought by this calamity (and the preceding tsunami and earthquake), most of Futaba’s residents were forced to relocate to a nearby school. Funahashi’s film locates the ongoing tragedy of these circumstances in crowded classroom dorms, cramped makeshift offices, and the uniformly despondent countenances of those who lost homes and loved ones to the catastrophe and who have now been left purgatorial refugees.

Employing straightforward, music-free aesthetics that express the grim realities of his story, director Funahashi captures both grief and outrage in equal measure, all of it tinged with the displaced and desolate citizens’ regret over having predicated their fates on the very energy-source technology that cost them so much during WWII.

While one man pines for his Mad Max and Planet of the Apes DVDs, Futaba itself proves to be a true apocalyptic wasteland of demolished buildings and contaminated debris — sights that silently scream out in opposition to indifferent government officials and corporations still committed to using nuclear power.