Families outside of the evacuation zone bore the costs of relocating.
“There was no government support to do that,” Ash said. “And so, what happened was anyone who had money and could evacuate did. People who were left were people who didn’t have the money or means to evacuate. This is an area, an agricultural community, and so basically everything they had — their land, farming equipment, their homes —
was contaminated. So, they couldn’t sell it. Imagine trying to move your family when everything you have has been taken away from you.”
The economic divide between the Japanese haves and have-nots is similar to the predicament of Hurricane Katrina victims in the United States.
“When people had a car or someplace to go or could afford to stay in a hotel for a week, they left. People who were waiting for the government programs to help them evacuate were people who were economically disadvantaged,” Ash said.
The same is true in Fukushima.
“People who didn’t have money, or the elderly people who were sick to the point where they were not able to evacuate, that was true in America in Hurricane Katrina as well,” he said.
For the two films, Ash shot between 60 and 80 hours of footage. The films are not sequels and can be watched independently of each other.
It’s not typical to release two feature films in two consecutive years. But many of the same festivals that selected “In the Grey Zone” chose “A2-B-C” as well.
“It wasn’t the intention to do it quickly,” Ash said. “That’s how the story came out. It’s not something we could have waited another year to do. What’s happening to the children needs to be told now.”
The natural rate of thyroid cysts and nodules that occur in children there is unknown.