Third Window Films announces DVD and Blu-Ray release of The Land of Hope by the director Sion Sono for August 26th 2013. Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Himizu) is the winner of the NETPAC Award at the Toronto Film Festival and the actor Isao Natsuyagi won a Best Actor Award from Mainichi Film Awards.
With this movie Japanese prolific director Sion Sono departed from his usual style and created a movingly restrained drama of a rural family’s struggle to survive in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and the nuclear crisis that resulted from it.
A devastating earthquake occurs in the fictional prefecture called Nagashima and causes the explosion of a reactor in a nearby nuclear power plant. The name Nagashima is coined by the director from the names of three cities in Japan that have been exposed to radiation: Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Fukushima.
Yoichi Ono (Jun Murakami) lives a peaceful life with his wife Izumi (Megumi Kagurazaka), and his parents Yasuhiko (Isao Natsuyagi) and Chieko (Naoko Otani), on the family’s small farm. The Nagashima community is directly within the twenty-kilometer evacuation radius—except for the Ono farm. Haunted by memories of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, in which evacuees were forced out of their homes permanently, the Onos are faced with a terrible decision: stay and risk the possibility of radiation poisoning, or leave the home their family has spent generations building.
Following is the statement from the director Sion Sono, January 6th 2012
On March 11, 2011― The Great East Japan Earthquake led to explosions at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant, releasing a massive quantity of radioactive material. This disaster destroyed the lives of many people ‒ lives that they used to know until that day.
Faced with this unprecedented crisis, I am greatly alarmed that only the scale of the nuclear accident, and not much else has been talked about in Japan. I fear that we will simply become desensitized to the idea of radiation and in time “co-exist” with it, willy-nilly, conveniently “forgetting” about it in our daily life. The government may well declare that the nuclear crisis, the focus of our attention since last March, has been resolved. I make this movie because I want people to “relive” “that time” again, to go back into March last year. By reliving that day again, we will be able to appreciate the horrifying reality that we have been forced into ‒ the reality of having to live with radiation. That is what we must talk about now. These thoughts are behind my determination to make this movie.
Far from declining, nuclear power is actually on the rise globally as “clean energy.” Fear of nuclear power is pervasive, yet we continue to depend on nuclear energy. Do we really have no other choice?
Japan is the only country in the world that has experienced the horror of nuclear first-hand in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and now we’ve had a nuclear accident even worse than Chernobyl. It is only our responsibility to warn the world by reporting our experiences. This movie is my answer to that; it is a sci-fi movie about a nuclear plant accident that occurs in the future ‒ a few years after the Fukushima disaster. It depicts what is happening in “Fukushima”, and in Japan right now, through the story of one family.
The nuclear accident severely tests the strong bond of this family. The son has no choice but to leave the land of his family, while the father refuses to leave, choosing to live by it. This family becomes torn apart by the nuclear disaster. Torn apart, and yet, they need each other. They learn just what they mean to each other. This is family drama that is actually happening now in every household in “Fukushima”, which I encountered in my research for this movie. But I chose to make this realistic documentary drama a sci-fi movie, setting it in the near future, because only drama, not a documentary, can convey what I wanted to tell the audience in this movie.
By setting the movie in the near future, paradoxically, the audience will learn what actually happened then, with all of its raw urgency. By witnessing the mistake we may make yet again some years down the line, we may be able to change the course of our future even a little, choosing not to repeat our foolish mistake. That is my sincere wish in making this movie.
DVD and Blu-ray special features include 70 minute Making of and theatrical trailer. The Land of Hope has a 133 minutes runtime and it’s in Japanese with English subtitles.
Watch The Land of Hope trailer below.