A 3.11 requiem written and directed by Ryoichi Kimizuka
gReturning as many bodies to their families as humanly possible.
That was the goal.h
Following the Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, amid all the tumult and
confusion, countless bodies began to be found and were carried to makeshift
morgues. "Treat them as if they are still alive," one man said as he worked to relax the
stiffened muscles of the bodies, gently extended their knees and elbows, pursed their
open mouths and returned a peaceful countenance to their faces.
Based on he true story and the reportage by Kota Ishii.
Written & Directed by Ryoichi Kimizuka
Cast: Toshiyuki Nishida, Mirai Shida (Nobody to Watch over Me),
Ikki Sawamura, Wakana Sakai, Shiro Sano, Koichi Sato, Toshiro Yanagiba
Ryoichi Kimizuka iBorn 1958 in Tokyoj
Kimizuka began his career in the TV industry after graduating from Nihon University Art
Department. After a string of successful comedy-entertainment shows and TV dramas, he
penned the "Bayside Shakedown" TV drama series in 1996. The drama was made into a
feature-length movie in 1998, and a sequel, gBayside Shakedown2,h which came out five
years later, the latter becoming the highest-grossing, live-action local film ever in Japan. For
its fourth installment, "THE SUSPECT,h released in 2005, Kimizuka finally had a chance to
direct the movie himself, and consequently went on to become a big hit, recording 3.83 billion
yen at the box office. His latest movie, gNobody to Watch over Me,h was released
nationwide in 2009 and winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the 32nd Montreal World
gParasite Eveh (1997) Screenplay
gBayside Shakedownh (1998) Screenplay
gTales of The Unusualh (2000) Screenplay
gBayside Shakedown IIh (2003) Screenplay
gMy Lover is a Sniperh (2004) Screenplay
gNegotiatorh (2005) Screenplay
gMAKOTOh (2005) Director
gTHE SUSPECTh (2005) Screenplay/Director
gNobody to Watch over Meh (2009) Screenplay/Director Best Screenplay: WFFM
gBayside Shakedown IIIh (2010) Screenplay
gREUNION (working title, a.k.a. The Mortuary)h (2013) Screenplay/Director
March 11, 2011. The Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami strikes, causing untold damage and destruction along the northeastern Sanriku coastline. The dead and missing number approximately 19,000. Amid severed lifelines and scattered information, many bodies start to be discovered among the rubble. They are taken to makeshift morgues. During the time that so many of the deceased were being brought in, a lot had to be done: autopsies conducted, DNA extracted, identities confirmed and the deceased reunited with their families. With each passing day, the body count mounted. What were the thoughts and feelings of disaster survivors at these mortuaries as they interacted with the dead and the bereaved? To all the people of Kamaishi who provided support to the bereaved families; who worked tirelessly to preserve the dignity of the deceased, a deep debt of gratitude is owed. They provided courage, comfort and inspiration. And it is important that this be known to as many people as possible so that the lessons learned and the examples shown can remain and be passed on to succeeding generations. From KOTA ISHII's reportage "ITAI, SHINSAI TSUNAMI NO HATENIh published by SHINCHOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd., comes the movie adaptation of a true and touching story.
Following the Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, amid all the tumult and confusion, countless bodies began to be found and were carried to makeshift morgues. One such morgue was the gymnasium of the former Number 2 Middle School in Kamaishi City. Police and city officials stood in bewilderment at the numbers of corpses being brought in one after another. Many physicians of all kinds, doctors and dentists, took to the enormous task of conducting autopsies. There was no heating in the frigid gym. The physicians worked on their knees, tending to all the bodies. Some of the victims they knew, others they did not.
One man who appeared in the confusion was retired Tsuneo Aiba (Toshiyuki Nishida) who now served as a regional social worker. Prior to retirement, he had been in the funeral business, and was accustomed to handling the deceased and comforting the bereaved. Feeling therefore the need to take initiative with so many people confronting death in such volume for the first time, he convinced the mayor to allow him to volunteer at the morgue.
As city workers watched in awe, Aiba spoke gently and compassionately to each and every body that was brought in. "Treat them as if they are still alive," he said as he worked to relax the stiffened muscles of the bodies, gently extended their knees and elbows, pursed their open mouths and returned a peaceful countenance to their faces.
As they watched Aiba, other city servants gradually noticed an emotional change taking over the place.
As many bodies as humanly possible must be returned to their families. Do what must be done to ensure the departed a proper sendoff. Acquiring enough dry ice, putting together coffins, showing kindness and utmost consideration to bereaved family members and treating the deceased with care and deference; volunteers confronted the harsh realities before them, each in their own way working relentlessly to interact with the dead and their surviving family members.
The sight of Aiba and other public servants helped to soften the intense grief of the bereaved. The resurrected crematorium in Kamaishi City couldn't handle the bodies fast enough. Many needed to be taken to crematoriums in neighboring prefectures of Aomori and Akita. At the request of family members, Aiba carefully applied makeup to the faces of the deceased.
Aiba, city officials, doctors and other volunteers stood with family members as each coffin departed. Afterwards, Aiba and staff would receive heartfelt gratitude from the bereaved. And then, when the coffins had left, Aiba and the rest would return to their assumed posts.
Returning as many bodies to their families as humanly possible. That was the goal. Aiba and everyone working at the old middle school would keep on working until that task was complete.