Japan, NEWS, Released docs — 03/03/2012 1:37 AM

Discovery Asia about to broadcast its “Rebuilding Japan Project” films

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One-year after the tsunami disaster in Japan, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (DNAP) is about to premiere the finished doc films from its Rebuilding Japan pitching initiative.

Launched on April, 26, 2011, the Rebuilding Japan project features documentaries from local filmmakers about Japan’s efforts to recover from the devastation of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Sixteen finalists were chosen from more than 250 entries. These finalists attended a three-day workshop in mid-July, where six final stories and production team were selected.

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific also partnered with NHK and Bang Singapore to co-produce a special that will premiere as part of the Rebuilding Japan initiative called “Beyond the Tsunami” with Ken Watanabe. The half-hour documentary features the Hollywood star as he visits the northeastern region of Tohoku.

James Gibbons, the senior VP and general manager of Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, Japan, said: “Discovery’s involvement in Japan started 15 years ago, in the early days of multichannel television. We have strong roots and relationships in this market and are proud to be able to make this small contribution by providing the world with a better understanding of life in Japan post-tsunami and celebrating the spirit of these remarkable people. We are all part of a global community and this is our way of demonstrating our support by doing what we do best—telling stories to an international audience.”

“We received many strong submissions—the films we ultimately selected truly cover a wide range of topics across the various communities affected,” added Kevin Dickie, the senior VP and head of content at Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. “We chose not to dwell on the past given the amount of media coverage this disaster already received. Instead, we wanted our theme to focus on the future and reflect the strength of the Japanese people.”

The air dates for the final six half-hour programmes have been announced. The six will start to air on Discovery in South-East Asia from March 6 at 20.00 and in North Asia, the Pacific Rim, India, China, Japan and Eastern Europe from March 11. Discovery in Western Europe will start showing the docs from March 10.

The special programme “Beyond the Tsunami” will premiere on March 4 in Japan at 22.00, March 5 in South-East Asia, March 9 and 10 across Europe and March 11 in China, India, North Asia and the Pacific Rim.


Episode Descriptions

Beyond the Tsunami with Ken Watanabe
Produced by: Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, Bang Singapore, NHK
Join Japanese Hollywood actor Ken Watanabe as he visits Northeastern Japan to observe Japan’s recovery from the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake. Watanabe discovers the technology behind how Japan’s bullet train system was able to avoid any deaths or injury. Watanabe then makes his way to one of the worst hit areas of Kesennuma where he meets one particular entrepreneur who has turned his sake brewery into a symbol of recovery for his village. Watanabe also joins renowned architect Toyo Ito in the ongoing debate in Japan about urban planning for the future – how science and technology can help Tohoku recover or whether a return to nature is the path to rebuilding Japan’s future. This is the story of one nation’s spirit and resilience as told through the eyes of one of its greatest ambassadors, one with a personal passion to rebuild his country.

Dreaming of Utopia
Filmmaker: Shiro Toma
Produced by: Ortus Japan Inc.
Rikuzen-Takata, a sleepy town in northeast Japan, was hit hard by the disaster. The town was almost entirely swallowed by the tsunami, and over 1,700 residents lost their lives. Futoshi Toba lost his beloved wife, but he cannot mourn. He became town mayor a month before his world was transformed, and he now faces challenges he never dreamed of. With much of the town reduced to rubble, Toba is driven by a great vision – to not just to revive the old town but rebuild it into a city of the future. Follow his search to gather together an expert team to implement cutting-edge solutions to the town’s problems. While his drastic plans attract both praise and criticism, Toba keeps true to his sense of duty. His town’s future lies in his hands, and he must act to make it the utopia that residents deserve.

Photos from the Sea
Filmmaker: Hideyuki Tokigawa
Produced by: TimeRiver Pictures Inc.
Japan’s great tsunami washed away houses and lives. While the cost of the damage runs into the billions, the coastal wasteland is strewn with something priceless – thousands of snapshots torn from their places of safe keeping in family homes. The images, caked in mud and discoloured by the salt water, portray people of all ages in all variety of places and occasions, but what they have in common is that they show people smiling. Now, a group of volunteers gather from all over the nation in a race to preserve and archive photographs, in the hope of delivering them back to their owners. Even with help from modern technology, it is a daunting task of mammoth proportions. Each picture is a precious record of better times and loved ones – how will volunteers ensure that as many people as possible are reunited with their happy memories?

Super Trains
Filmmaker: Hiroshi Nakazawa
Produced by: Ox-On Inc.
Japan’s record 9.0 earthquake destroyed infrastructure all across northeastern Japan, leaving local train lines devastated. There was not one incident of death or injury, however, on the nation’s “arteries” – its high-speed bullet train network. Follow the story of how past experiences have played a part in building up the bullet train’s safety, and the sophisticated technology that lies behind its extensive safety system today. Go behind the scenes to discover the strict maintenance standards that are enforced, and learn about the network of instruments capable of the remarkable feat of predicting earthquakes. Then follow the team that strives to update the bullet train’s safety mechanisms post-disaster, and the remarkable new safety features being devised to safeguard passengers in future.

Return of the K-Cars
Filmmaker: Takahiro Sato
Produced by: Chroma Tech Systems Inc.

Japan’s motor industry is legendary, and it is also home to a unique motor sport. Small-engine ‘K-Cars’, small and thrifty family cars used for everything from trips to work or the supermarket, go head to head on a racing circuit. It is a low-cost racing series open to anyone with a car, and a chance for the regular guy to let out his inner speed demon. Northeast Japan’s very first race of the new series was due to take place at their home track near Sendai, but their plans were dashed. The March 11 disaster swept away cars and brought their circuit to ruin. Is there a place for their motoring fantasies in post-disaster Japan? When dreams are most in need, this band of brothers drives on with their plans to rebuild their cars, their circuit, and their passion for life.

Brewing Hope
Filmmaker: Shugo Sugawara
Produced by: Japan Cable Television, Ltd.

The town of Kesennuma is home to a sake brewery of international repute, but the area was laid to waste by the disaster. Its historic headquarters now lies in ruins, but a miracle occurred in the days following the destruction. A small portion of moromi mash, a vital ingredient of sake making, survived. Amidst the devastation, this gave the brewery the hope to keep going with this year’s sake production, despite the post-disaster upheaval and lack of basic infrastructure. Can the delicate brewing process succeed, despite all the odds against them? And what will the rebirth of the town’s brewery mean for inhabitants and businesses of the local area? Follow the story of a brewery, a town and the “tsunami vintage” of sake, symbol of the town’s rebirth.

The Seaweed Makers
Filmmaker: Naho Shimazu
Produced by: Studio Alta Inc.

The sea has long nurtured Japan’s seaweed-growing communities, and the seas around Miyagi Prefecture in the country’s northeast have been especially bountiful – their produce has long been held in high esteem and even supplies the imperial household. In March 2011, however, the sea rose against them, leaving locals with broken homes and a devastated fleet. While many have chosen to bow out, a group of proud seaweed makers battle on to defend their traditional livelihood. Where nori making was once a solitary pursuit, they join forces for the first time to share limited resources and machinery. Their challenges are many, including the menace of radioactive contamination that threatens to reduce all their labours to nothing. Navigating uncertainties at work and home, they endeavour to rebuild their lives as they reach for the ultimate prize – the honour of offering up their produce to the imperial family once more.
SOURCES: DNAP, worldscreen.com, C21 Media  (2/03/12)

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