No Man’s Zone / 無人地帯
No Man’s Zone, Toshi Fujiwara’s Marker-esque exploration of the effects of 3.11.takes him within the 50 kilometer no man’s zone surrounding the crippled and leaking Fukushima Nuclear plant. He visited the area in spring, shortly after the meltdown and was one of the first to document the affected area. The journey is not merely the usual disaster sightseeing trip, but a serious questioning of how it was and is being mediated, along with a healthy dose of asides and commentary, interviews with a handful of holdouts living with the zone and scenes of destruction countered with things like blooming cherry trees and flowers. For a film about one of the major disasters that ever hit Japan, it’s surprisingly beautiful. What are most powerful of No Man’s Land are the images of nature’s healing and rebirth, even tainted by the invisible poison left by man. The final, somewhat mundane image of a tree takes on a new meaning in Fujiwara’s hands – something akin to hope, leavened with frightful knowledge and the weight of recent history.
Published in EL Magazine, February 2014.