Film: Ashes To Honey
(Mitsu-bachi no Haoto to Chikyū no Kaiten / ミツバチの羽音と地球の回転 )
Director: Hitomi Kamanaka
Venue: ICA, London
People of Japanese
People of Sweden
Running time: 115 mins
- Nippon Connection Film Festival 2011
- International Uranium Film Festival 2011
- Zipangu Fest 2011*
- *Shown as part of Zipangu Fest
Zipangu Fest (ジパング・フェスト) is the first UK-wide festival devoted to Japanese film, introducing works new and old, many previously unseen by mainstream UK film audiences, to demonstrate the many identities of Japan as depicted by some of the country’s most exciting and revered talents.
March 2009. An island… Iwaishima, Japan.
We witness fishing. Seaweed fishing.
An amateur-like feel to the filming is soon a distant thought once we’ve been introduced to this little community.
This community is made up of people whose average age is 75. A young guy – he’s in is 30’s – is trying to make a life here. It is tough and he knows it, but he knows if he applies his new learned trade (planting vegetables & edibles) his community and himself reap the awards. Reaping what you sew being the all important and literal phrase here.
However, this is not just a battle for making a business but it’s to compete with the more pressing subject of a nuclear power plant being proposed and built in this their little land. This plant is due to be up and running eventually, in the town of Kaminoseki.
It soon transpires that the nuclear power firm, Chugoku Electric Power Co. Inc (connected to Energia) have also caused problems with this land and indeed the waters around it.
This only pushes the harvesting, and their determination to harvest forwards. Proud of their capturing of sea favourites like Seaweed, crabs, fish, they pursue this traditional ideal more and more.
In fact, one may say that these beautifully connected people just continue as normal. After all, nothing should stop their way of living.
All this threat of nuclear power and possible termination of the community’s every day life made me link the connection of Iwaishima with Horishima. It’s not just the pronunciation of those two names with are similar… Sadly, No…
Destruction abounds. We, as the audience feel real threat.
Talking of destruction, we soon hear a very sad tale from the father of the 30-something guy at the beginning of this picture. He lost 3 people close to him in just 1 year. The happenings and current goings-on are definitely not what he needs and in fact he is doing more than his bit to deter the unwanted company, and ‘company’.
Always a guy to read minimal regarding a film, I’m suddenly a tad surprised to find us in Sweden. Why? Read on… But I did think that this Swedish segment was going to be its second half. I was wrong… It is only it’s middle part. Either way, we moved seamlessly from a tale involving Seaweed, to land of many a Swede – or to put it another way, it’s onto the Swedish from the Seaweed-ish.
Sweden is the Eco-capital of the world. I’m pretty sure of that… Now! And for anyone who wasn’t sure of such a fact would be after witnessing this documentary. Affectionate and affecting stories from individuals make you want to move to the land of the Swedish right away!
The Swedish certainly seem to have the right idea.
One story told is how an individual was so moved, angered or put off by what he witnessed from oil companies, in Peru. This was almost the sole ‘driving’ force for him to be involved with electric cars and related Eco-technology. He was once the owner of a Shell petrol reward card, of sorts but after seeing men kill each other over fuel, that was it for him. These were not so much conglomerates themselves but local guys. Call this the world of dishonest, dirty or blood money, if you like. You can really see this man’s honesty in his eyes.
I could go on praising this land of Swedes but they, almost unknowingly praise themselves. An example of them doing this can be heard on more than one occasion when they tell our Japanese filmmaker “Japan CAN do it”… Or words to this effect.
Lastly, one man is asked his ‘reaction’ to a certain important or pressing item. I could only think that such a ‘reactor’ is what the sensible world-people want. i.e. a human one, not a chemical one.
We can all ‘react’ in this tense & often harsh real world, and in front of a screening like this.
We’re soon back in…
Indeed, back in Japan we’re witnessing the struggling townsfolk. We are also back to seeing them doing what they do best – maintaining a life for themselves, no matter how old. Be this fishing for produce or recycling off-cuts from foods to food for their farm animals. Just look at the pigs as the gobble down unwanted food parts, whilst at the same time performing a duty by keeping the earth ‘turfed’ over [almost literally]. Indeed, recycling of one kind meets reconstituting of another.
Survival and producing items for both themselves & elsewhere in Japan is not all they do.
This half-content population also have to deal with that threat from the giant that is the nuclear power company, Chugoku Electric Power. Yes. That real threat mentioned above is even more real now…
We see these folk doing their best to deter large boats entering – and taking over – their waters. The people will not let this happen. This is not about forgetting ‘why they are deterring in the first place’, as is naively stated by the guys from the Chugoku Electric Power. This community knows what it is doing. After all, this is a battle which has so far lasted 27 years, as of 2009.
The viewing of this power firm doing what they do best – i.e. being ‘power-ful’ – can prove uneasy, what with these local folk being accused of not knowing why they’re fighting them. That’s in addition to a loudspeaker full of comments like “your supplies won’t last forever… soon you will die” and bribing statements like “we promise you friends and work from the mainland”… Words to such effect anyway.
Well, I feel I’ve documented and summised this docmenatary as best as can be. Although, it is of course one of those subjects on whcih one could talk, discuss and heatedly discuss if necessary, for hours.
It’s interesting to note – whilst mentioning hours – that this is one of those rare documentaries lasting for 2 hours. That’s much longer than many, but this always manages to keep the viewer interested.
There is also some contrasting reggae on the soundrtrack. As well as worldly sounding music, which is both relaxing, hypnotic and eclectic at the same time. The artist currently known as Shing02 is responsible for laying down these tunes. Check them out if you can, even if you haven’t had a chance to see this movie yet. The closing song was also a perfectly fittingly tuneful one.
Finally, it was commented after the film from another viewer about the English narration, but spoken by a Japanese individual. Perhaps it seems a little amateurish or detracts the viewer a little, but I feel although she wasn’t the best in clarity we should “cut her some slack” as Americans say. Why? We are so lucky having the English language as our first one, and it’s purely what our ears and mouth are tuned to. People are so quick to forget this.
Let’s hope we’re not all so quick to forget this documentary and, of course the threat of nuclear energy.
So, you’d like a taster?
…and you can find the following Mini Mini Movie (i.e. Trailer) & other Mini-er Movies at:
“Mini Mini Mitsu-bachi”
Lastly, if this tale, the people’s plight or the concern for nuclear power concern you, these films may be of interest also. These touch, in some shape or form on such subject matter:
Well. that’s about all from:
‘Mini Mini Movie’
but on to:
“Little Little London”