Japan facing a long road to healing

Film professor Dean Yamada reflects on what Japan has to face, even though the rest of the world has moved on from its tragedy.


Job Ang

Dean Yamada, Biola cinema and media arts professor | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

It is somewhat difficult to believe that two months have passed since the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the northern coast of Japan. We will never forget seeing those jaw-dropping images of the merciless tides sweeping through cities and hearing the heart-wrenching stories of loss and courage.

Life continues after the tragedy

As the island nation begins its long road to recovery, their national psyche will never quite be the same. A generation will come of age with fear ingrained in them.

For us Americans, life has understandably moved on — Facebook statuses attest so. Japan has faded into the background, but as anyone who has experienced personal tragedy will know, the pain is still very present for those suffering in Japan. I want to challenge readers to remember the people of Japan, to continue to pray for healing and to understand God’s heart for this deeply fascinating culture.

Biola film students encounter Japan

I had the privilege of traveling to Tokyo with a class of 13 Biola students in January. Our goals were to make a good film and give of ourselves to the people of Japan. The experience was incredible on many levels. However, we were not the givers; we were the recipients of much generosity. The people of Japan touched the students’ lives in a way that resonated deeply like the rhythm of a Taiko drum.

“Persimmon” to premiere in Hollywood

Now, this Friday, May 13, we have the opportunity to show the Biola community the fruit of our work. I believe we have accomplished the first goal of making a good film. “Persimmon” will premiere at 8 p.m. at the American Film Institute’s Mark Goodson Theater in Hollywood. The screenwriter, Yu Shibuya, and actor, Yugo Saso, will both be flying in from Japan to join the festivities. The screening is open to the public.

Our second goal is one that should be ongoing. The act of giving ourselves to the people of Japan is one that should not have ceased once we returned home to the States. Now more than ever we need to give of ourselves, our prayers and our resources. “Persimmon” is hopefully a reflection of this desire.

New film project will engage hurting nation

We are currently collaborating on a new project, one that will bring hope to a country that is in need of a reprieve. As Shibuya said to me while writing the screenplay, “Our task is to believe in the country’s recovery and make something that will invite the audience to a world without earthquakes.”

Through the cinema and media arts department, Biola shares a unique bond with Japan. Come support your fellow students and see how their experiences in Tokyo have shaped the art that they have created.

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