New Sono Sion Project Tackles Post-Fukushima Japan

Director sneaked into Fukushima exclusion zone to research pic.

TOKYO – Sion Sono is following up Himizu, which he rewrote to include the March tsunami, with Land of Hope, a family drama set after a huge earthquake and Fukushima-type nuclear accident.

Shooting of Land of Hope began last weekend as Himizu was giving the cult director his biggest opening in Japan, pulling in around 3.5 million yen ($450,000) in two days.

Sono told The Hollywood Reporter last Oct. that he had been sneaking into the nuclear exclusion zone around Fukushima to research the film, and was trying to find a way to shoot in the area.

With Sono’s international profile raised after Himizu’s award-winning premiere at Venice last year, the new project has secured funding from Third Window Films (UK), Rapid Eye Movies (Germany) and Joint Entertainment (Taiwan).

Isao Natsuyagiand Naoko Otani will play an elderly couple whose son, Jun Murakami, and his pregnant wife, Megumi Kagurazaka, have to flee their rural farm after an earthquake and nuclear accident.

Sono has expressed his dismay that the Japanese are complacent about the dangers of radiation.

“I fear that we will simply become desensitized to the idea of radiation in time and 'co-exist' with it," said Sono in statement.

International sales are slated to begin at HK Filmart in March and a late summer release is scheduled for Japan.

Twitter @GavinJBlair