CSUN to Screen Documentary Exploring Stories of Japanese Atomic Bomb Survivors

California State University, Northridge will explore stories of Japanese atomic bomb survivors with a screening of “Message from Hiroshima,” a Japanese documentary directed by bomb survivor Masaaki Tanabe, narrated by actor George Takei and featuring work by CSUN faculty and students.

The film will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20, at the Armer Theater in Manzanita Hall, near the southwest corner of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.

Message From Hiroshima

The documentary tells the stories of Hiroshima survivors, with the help of computer-generated imagery by CSUN animation faculty and students. The program recently was ranked by Animation Career Review as one of the 50 best public school programs in the country and one of the top 25 public and private universities on the West Coast.

Originally released in Japan in 2010, the U.S. release was made available by Cinema Libre Studio in August — in time for the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima attack.

CSUN animation professor Mark Farquhar and a team of students helped digitally recreate neighborhoods of the Nakajima district, based on the memories of thehibakusha — the Japanese word for atomic bomb survivor.

With Los Angeles producers and animators Yuriko Senoo and Adam Dykstra, Farquhar produced the English-language version through collaboration with Japanese university students and professionals to create computer-generated imagery of detailed buildings, roads, people and even things like bicycles. The artists looked at old plans and pictures of areas and buildings, such as the neighborhood’s shops and the iconic Hiroshima dome, which withstood the bomb.

The CSUN screening is a collaboration between Farquhar, cinema and television arts professor Frances Gateward, and theatre professor Leigh Kennicott. Dykstra, Senoo and two alumni animators, Jocelyn Cervenka and Roger Mathews, will participate in the program.

Farquhar said the film has been well received, and he is excited to share the survivors’ stories with CSUN and the community.

“The best part of releasing this film is that we are able to get students in college and high schools, who haven’t been exposed to some of the issues that come up in the film, to learn about people in the film who have been affected by the bomb,” Farquhar said. “It’s a chance to look at something a little more in depth. We’re really lucky to have gotten the people we have, to have helped with the film.”

The film also will be accompanied by an internationally renowned art installation, “Transforming the Human Spirit,” by Soka Gakkai International. The exhibition is sponsored by CSUN student club Buddhists for World Peace. Club president Nozomi Aoyagi said the exhibition — which spreads the message of nonviolence and raises awareness of the danger of nuclear weapons — fits perfectly with the film’s message of peace.

“We were interested in getting involved with the screening because it talks about the nuclear bomb and, as Buddhist students, one of our main activities is to promote the abolishment of nuclear weapons,” Aoyagi said. “We’ve been looking for a place to bring this exhibit, and we are so excited that it is part of this event, especially because this is the 70th anniversary of the bombing.”

The exhibit will be open from Thursday, Nov. 19, to Tuesday, Nov. 24. A ceremony, featuring a guest speaker from Soka Gakkai International, will take place at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19, in Manzanita Hall room 130.

The Friday film screening will be preceded by a reception, at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of Manzanita Hall. A question-and-answer session will follow the screening.

Aoyagi, who grew up in Japan, said it is important for students to learn about the consequences of nuclear weapons and to understand that the issue is not so far removed from them.

“As college students, we are future leaders of the world and we need to have a broader perspective,” Aoyagi said. “People think this issue has nothing to do with them on an individual level because we are not in positions of authority or working in the government, but nuclear weapons are a dangerous threat to all of humanity. From the Buddhist perspective, people are all connected, and we really need to unite to prevent more violence.”
For more information about the screening at CSUN and others in Los Angeles, please visit www.facebook.com/messagefromhiroshima.