Press-Republican

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September 1, 2013

Filmmaker documents unseen threat

(Continued)

“Which is not true in animals. People are doing studies of butterflies and other insects. There have been studies in Chernobyl as well,” Ash said.

“For me, those children will live their entire lives wondering if there will be an effect on them. The young women may think, ‘Should I get married? If I have a child, will they face some consequences because of the radiation I was exposed to as a child?’ Regardless of what the ‘science’ says, there is nothing we can do to alleviate that fear or that worry from those people.”

LANGUAGE ADVANTAGE

Ash had remarkable access to the people in his film because he is a Westerner who speaks Japanese.

“In Japan, you’re not really supposed to complain about your situation. You’re supposed to say, ‘We will persevere. We’ll put on a strong face.’ I think being able to talk to someone that was foreign, they felt they weren’t going to be judged. I’m just guessing. I don’t really know,” he said.

He developed initial relationships and was pulled into an intimate circle of mothers and others concerned about their children’s plights.

“Eventually, there were people contacting me,” he said.

RISKING HEALTH

Since the disaster, Ash repeatedly risks his health for his art and chosen mission.

“If a person I’m interviewing wears a mask or tells me to put one on, I will put one on. If the person I’m interviewing is not wearing a mask in the film, I don’t wear one. I can’t have a wall between me and the person I’m interviewing,” Ash said. 

“The choice would be if I thought about it at the level that I really need to protect myself to the point of wearing a mask all the time, even when the people around were not, then I just wouldn’t go. There’s no way to protect yourself. There’s nothing you can do.”

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