Tell the Prime Minister Screening In Sydney

March 4, 2016

As the 5th anniversary of 2011's Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami approaches next month, The Japan Foundationin Sydney will be screening a documentary about anti-nuclear activism in Japan following the disaster.

Tell the Prime Minister Screening In Sydney

As the 5th anniversary of 2011's Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami approaches next month, The Japan Foundationin Sydney will be screening a documentary about anti-nuclear activism in Japan following the disaster.

The Japan Foundation, Sydney is pleased to partner with University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) to present the first-ever Australian screening of Tell the Prime Minister (2015), a documentary about growing anti-nuclear activism in Japan following the triple disaster of March 11, 2011 (known in Japan as “3.11”).

The screening will be held on April 8, 6:30pm at UTS and features a Q&A with director Eiji Oguma, who is also a Professor of Policy Management at Keio University, Japan.

Eiji Oguma is an academic who has worked extensively on the history of social movements in Japan. So when he saw protest culture awaken from decades of slumber after the disaster, he knew he was witnessing a historically significant event: Japan was seeing its first large-scale protests since the 1970s, and the movement clearly crossed the boundaries of age, gender, locality, politics and experience. Tell the Prime Minister is an intimate and powerful film that documents post-3.11 activism from a historian’s perspective, showing how and why this movement emerged.

The film first recaps how the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant explosion unfolded, and goes on to chart a steady groundswell of citizen action in response to the crisis. This began with small, isolated protests against nuclear power springing up across the capital. However, momentum gradually built and numbers grew, with the largest demonstration seeing 200,000 people march before the Prime Minister’s office on June 29, 2012.

These events received little attention in Japanese mainstream media, so prior to this film’s release the major records were informal—primarily, user-generated online content such as blog posts and videos. Tell the Prime Minister formalises a chapter in Japan’s social history that was in danger of remaining invisible, not only to outside nations but also to many within Japan. The film combines actual protest footage with candid interviews with people at the heart of the movement. The protest footage was selected from the hundreds of hours of user-generated content uploaded to the web by protest participants, and has been reproduced with permission.

Director Eiji Oguma says, “The people who appear in this film are all individuals who cared enough to act. When they gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s Office to protest it was such a rare, powerful, and beautiful moment. As a historian, my mission was to capture this event so it could be passed down to future generations.”

The Q&A will be hosted by Alexander Brown, a researcher from the University of Wollongong who completed his PhD on Japan’s post-3.11 activism.

This event is part of a program by The Japan Foundation, Sydney titled, After 3.11: Have you met the new Japan?, running March 1 – April 15. It explores how Japan has changed since the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 through an exhibition, pottery demonstration, talks and film.

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