On March 20th, 1995 Atsushi Sakahara was one of over 6,000 people injured in the attack on the Tokyo metro by the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, who still operate and recruit today. In his upcoming documentary, “Aganai: The Cult Leader And Me” he embarks on a journey with the cult’s executive, Hiroshi Araki, to record the parallel experiences of a victim and perpetrator.
Now, on the anniversary of the tragic event, and amidst the current global climate and with the future of film festivals uncertain, Sakahara has pre-launched “Before / After Aum” to share a story of resilience with the world. He hosts the podcast that will cover post-war Japan, the rise of doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo and its leader Shoko Asahara, the events leading up to the attack, how the government has treated victims, and more. Today, both a teaser for the doc and a trailer for the podcast are released, and you can subscribe to “Before / After Aum” on Substack. “Before / After Aum” will be available on Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts and wherever else you get your podcasts.
“As a victim, it’s been incredibly important for me to learn about the psychology of cults, PTSD and our society by looking at the Aum Shinrikyo case,” comments Atsushi Sakahara. “Because of the language barrier, the dangers have never been shared in English fully, even though they are active internationally.”
The capsule prologue 25 Years will be available to subscribers, alongside the trailer, in which Sakahara reflects on the impact of the last quarter-century since the event. Episode 1 drops April 8th.
After being injured in the attack, Sakahara, who produced the 2001 Palme d’Or winning short from David Greenspan “Bean Cake”, suffered lifelong damage and post-traumatic stress disorder, and managed his recovery in a number of ways. He has written books focused on his experiences as a form of catharsis, and completes the progression with “Aganai”, which is currently in post-production.
Sakahara has been a vocal spokesperson for the attacks and process of recovery. He has spoken at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and been widely interviewed on his experience by media in Japan and internationally.
Both the documentary and podcast are produced by Good People Inc. Good Move Media, a Hong Kong-based sales-outfit, is handling the film as part of its output deal with HKIFF Collection, the international sales arm of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.