Aya Domenig, CH/FI 2015, 80'
Als die Sonne von Himmel fiel
World Premiere
Sun 9.8.2015, 11.00, Cinema Teatro Kursaal
Mon 10.8.2015, 14:00, Palavideo

en / it / de / fr

Still today, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945 by the Americans continues to defy imagination. The Japanese society is struggling to come to terms with these events and still seems to be stifled by suppression and fear. Attempting to grasp the unimaginable, the Swiss-Japanese filmmaker Aya Domenig set out by investigating her grand- parents’ generation. Following the attack, her grandfather was employed at the Red Cross Hospital in Hiroshima and suffered from inner radioactive contamination, the long-term effects of which presumably led to his death. Like so many of his contemporaries, he never ever spoke of the time after the disaster as long as he lived. The filmmaker’s sources of information are a doctor and a nurse who worked in the hospital at the same time – and who are not afraid to talk straight. Critically minded, Doctor Shuntaro Hida has incessantly fought against a conspiracy of silence and shed light on the health implications of radioactive contamination. His explanations, at times shocking, are supported in the film by carefully chosen archival material and discrete music that never pushes to the fore. The filmmaker analyses Japan’s bruised psyche in a careful yet persistent way and intricately interweaves her family’s history with the country’s suppressed radioactive heritage. Despite its painful topic, the film never adopts an accusatory rhetoric. The protagonists’ composure seems unshakable. Domenig’s grandmother, too, has found her own personal way of mourning.

As Japan falls victim to another nuclear catastrophe during the shooting of the film in March 2011, the director witnesses how the past catches up with the present. But this time, almost 70 years after Hiroshima, the people are more interconnected and increasingly distrust the government’s appeasements and all-clear signals. Former nurse Choziko Uhida takes in a woman and her son from Fukushima. Her spine bowed by the hardships of life, the ninety-year-old is shown collecting medicinal dokudami herbs in her garden, drying them and personally bringing the labelled bags to the local distributor who adds the herbal tea to the fermented foodstuffs destined for the radiation victims of Fukushima. Domenig observes the old woman’s quiet determination. With her thirst for action she represents, as it were, the crisis-stricken island nation that time and again evades facing its traumas. In order to endure the future, light has to shed on the shadows of the past. Aya Domenig’s highly sensitive film is a contribution to this endeavour.

Sascha Lara Bleuler