Half-Life in Fukushima

Mark Olexa, Francesca Scalisi

In desolate Fukushima, where nuclear disaster struck in 2011, a Japanese farmer leads a life of solitude in the middle of the contaminated 'red' zone. A beautifully stylised tribute to a stubborn lone wolf who makes his way through a post-apocalyptic landscape.

On 11 May 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami on the coast of Japan caused a huge nuclear disaster in the city of Fukushima. In the days after that event, almost the entire local population was evacuated from a radius of about 30 kilometres around the nuclear power plant. It will take several decades before this area will be habitable again. The city was basically left empty.

Naoto, a Japanese farmer, was one of the few who refused to leave. While men in protective suits clean up the nuclear waste, demolish houses and dispose of contaminated ground, Naoto is having a good time with his ostrich: his faithful companion who remained behind with him. He plays a bit of golf and ponders whether to join the cleaning crew in their activities. The desolate area that Naoto currently wanders would not be amiss in a sci-fi movie about the end of days. Unfortunately, the post-apocalyptic mise en scène of this film is all too real. That makes this documentary, shot on 16 mm film and wonderfully stylised, even more eerie. It is also tragicomic: for instance, we can see how Naoto obediently waits for a red traffic light in a completely desolate city, and it looks like he is singing a melancholy song in a karaoke bar all by himself.

Text: Annika Wubbolt


Mark Olexa, Francesca Scalisi
Country of production
Switzerland, France
61 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
World Sales