Two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Murai braves danger and wanders through the no-go zone in order to spend time with Jun, his eight-year-old son.

Living in an era where biosuits seem like common wear, the initial look at ‘Homesick’ may not be so shocking. But director Koya Kamura quickly makes us forget about Covid in the magnificent and emotional short. Despite its close-to-30-minutes timeline, we quickly get invested in our main characters and particularly the unique storyline. The film bings us in the dangerous no-go zone in Fukushima two years after the nuclear disaster, to reunite a father with his eight-year-old son. We spoke to Koya who was able to tell us a little more on the film and his process:

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

I was very impressed by the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Also, my son was born in 2012. With his birth, the fear of losing him came along. I guess those 2 events gave me the urge to write this story.

Locations were an important part of this film. What was the location scouting process like?

I was also inspired by a series of photograph shot in the no-go-zone by Guillaume Bression a french photograph. You’re right, the location was one of my bigger concern. Most of the place I saw in the pictures were already cleaned up and didn’t exist anymore. So we had to recreate it as much as we could.
So we shot in 3 big locations.

Near Tokyo, in a few location that could look like it was near the no-go-zone.
Near Fukushima (in Ishinomaki), where the tsunami was devastating, but where there was no issues with radioactivity.
And finally, we shot for a day in the No-Go zone to have as many shot of the zone and of the nuclear plant as possible. It was only my DOP, a production assistant and me.

As i was living in France, a location manager did a first selection of location. I choosed among them by video or photos. Then went in japan in February for a first visit of the location. narrowed it down a bit and came back to France. I Then wrapped it up in July, a month before shooting.

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

I guess it was the first scene of the film that sets the relation between the son and the father, AND of course the last scene that seals the relation between them. The problem is that, for many reasons, we had to shoot those 2 sequences on the very first day of shooting. The 2 actors barely knew eachothers. I had to do eveything I could to have them break the ice, and sound like they father and son.

What has this film taught you about filmmaking?

As I was already directing commercials, I was familiar with the set, with the crew and with the production process. What I was really concerned with was directing the actors. And this is where I learned the most. Also, I learned to do what I /me really wanted without having an agency or a client, challenging all my choices as it is in the commercial directing process. Took me a while to understand that freedom and then to embrace it.

What do you hope people will take away from Homesick?

Hope, emotion and maybe a little information about what happened in Fukushima.

What are your favorite films?

I have a very wide range of film that I love. Very very very wide. It goes from the Godfather, to James Gray films, to Grown up with Adam Sandler, to Bong Jong Oh’s Memories of Murder, to Pacific Rim, to French author films.

Are there any short films that directly inspired this film?

Not really. To be honnest I started watching a lot of short film only after I made Homesick. I didn’t know much about the shortfilm world before that.