Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Refugee Film Festival - Tokyo 7.18.07

Sponsored by the UNHCR, the 2nd Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo ( started today and will run until 7/26. 20+ films exploring various current refugee situations across the globe or documenting previous refugees experiences will be given free public screening in 4 different foreign embassies/cultural institutes throughout the week. Some are Japan premiere and some include English subtitles.

I went to the screening of "The Tsunami Generation" tonight at the Swedish Embassy. The documentary depicts the post-tsunami revival in Aceh, Indonesia, and is interwoven with three different stories of survival. The first story centers around three brothers of the same family who were later taken in by a local shopkeeper who provided free food, shelter, and job opportunities for them. Another talks about the two remaining brother and sister of the family who struggled to make a living while anxiously waiting for the government aid to arrive. The last one is less about survival but touches upon the political situation of the area, for it tells the story of the leader of a local guerilla group that, for the past 30 years, had been fighting for independence against the Indonesian gov't until the peace agreement was signed in 2006.

According to the documentary, most of the survivors have their Muslim faith further strengthened by the catastrophe. For a while, Muslim fundamentalist groups came into the area, volunteering to clean out and bury the diseased bodies while proclaiming their fundamentalist beliefs. A year after the catastrophe, however, most of the fundamentalist forces left the area, and the only outside forces that continued to take root were the international relief organizations.

At various points during the screening, tears began to well up in my eyes. The woman of 3 kids and another unborn baby who lost her husband, the younger brother of the family who wasn't fully convinced that his father was dead until a year later, and the car repair shopkeeper who opened his house for the homeless survivors ... There was common humanity within that I could relate to, but the degree of suffering and sorrow that they have gone through is the one that I cannot possibly imagine myself enduring at all.

The Tsunami Generation:

梅ちゃん at 9:51:00 PM



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