After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hollywood rolled out multiplex-ready films focusing on the events of that tragic day. In the year since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe in the Tohoku region, dozens of Japanese and foreign filmmakers have taken their cameras north, but not to make mass-audience epics — yet. Instead, they have been documenting or dramatizing the triple disaster and its aftermath in low-to-no- budget films, more from a sense of mission than the usual career/commercial considerations.
One is Ryuichi Hiroki, whose new film, “River,” was originally inspired by the random killings on June 7, 2008, by a disturbed man in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics shopping district. After ramming a rented truck into a crowd and killing three, Tomohiro Kato fatally stabbed four more with a knife before being arrested by police. The incident generated worldwide headlines, as well as an outpouring of commentary on the alienated and despairing state of Japan’s marginalized youth.