Film chronicling Tohoku man’s ordeal honored


A documentary about an elderly man’s struggle and success in rebuilding his home after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami received a special mention Saturday at the 63rd Berlin international film festival.

Directed by Kaoru Ikeya, “Senzo ni Naru” (“Becoming an Ancestor”), which has the English title “Roots,” was among works mentioned by the jury, which gives awards independent from the Berlinale festival’s secretariat.

The movie tells the story of Naoshi Sato, 78, who lost his eldest son and home in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, to the tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Sato, who makes a living from farming and forestry, eventually built a new house in the same neighborhood.

While Sato was devastated by the event, he resolved to reclaim the life he had before the disaster, and, against the wishes of his family and people around him, he refused to move into temporary housing set up by the government and continued to live alone in a hut near the site of his former home, realizing his dream little by little as time went by.

Ikeya said he was honored to receive the award and happy to know that viewers have been touched by Sato’s efforts to makes his dreams a reality.