Steve Nguyen & Choz Belen

Ever since I met Kaz Suyeishi, I always questioned whether it was necessary for America to drop the atomic bomb in Japan on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In order to view it objectively, I wanted to understand it from both the Japanese and American perspective.

Through Kaz's stories about WWII pertaining to the Japanese/US relations, I had learned about the many lives that were sacrificed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the course of the HIBAKUSHA production, there were many philosophical discussions between colleagues that ensued about how the war would not have ended without dropping the atomic bomb. If the war had continued, combat would have spread from Okinawa to mainland Japan and even more lives would have been lost. In other words, people still viewed the atomic bomb as a necessary measure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are some people out there who have continued to appeal for peace to Americans who are unaware of the hibakusha experience. "No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki. No more Hibakusha. No more any war" is the slogan by which Kaz has been advocating as a message of peace.

Even now, at 85 years old, it amazes us that Kaz continues to speak about her experience of the atomic bomb at schools and other public engagements. Narratives like these inspire us to connect with all of the great storytellers of the world and challenge us to artistically recreate them. We cannot thank Kaz enough for sharing her personal story with us and for allowing us to make this film.

Steve Nguyen

USA, 2012, 54 min, English Documentary with animation This film is inspired to bring awareness to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in hopes that a nuclear tragedy like this will never happen again. "Hibakusha" is a Japanese term which refers to a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The film was built around the story of Kaz Suyeishi, an 84-year-old survivor, who recalls her memories as an 18-year-old Japanese American student when the atomic bomb was dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima. Not only is the story compelling, but so is the form. Well into the project Steve Nguyen decided it shouldn't be a documentary with talking heads, it needed elements to bring to life the emotion of the time. And so the animated documentary was born, taking Kaz's memories...