Q&A with 'Hibakusha' director Steve Nguyen
Tell us about Hibakusha.
Hibakusha is an animated docu-drama that Choz Belen and I are directing, and it will take you through the earliest memories of a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor named Kaz Suyeishi. For those who don’t know what a Hibakusha is, that is the term given to those survivors of the atomic bombings.
The film will be divided into three segments (Angel, Ground Zero, Epilogue), and the animated sequences will depict what she went through as she is telling her story.
Unlike the segments that I’ve filmed for channelAPA and YouTube, I decided to go a different route with this. I felt that I couldn’t do her story any justice unless I was able to take you on a journey and show you exactly what she experienced through her own eyes. How did you get involved with Hibakusha?
To tell you the truth, it was an idea that lied dormant in my head for the last 2 years.
Mrs. Suyeishi and I were introduced through a mutual family friend, and right away, we hit it off! She’s a very upbeat person despite her physical condition and traumatic encounters, which always kept me inspired whenever I was around her. We invited her to speak at our university shortly after we met, and when I heard her story for the very first time… I was completely and utterly enthralled!
Since then, I’ve always wanted to do this film… but usually with these kind of projects, it would require a great deal of time in order to assemble a production team and head into the process with a script and plan in mind. I think last year would have been a perfect opportunity to do it, but with work and channelAPA responsibilities to tend to… I just never had the time.
When do you anticipate the film will be completed?
I would estimate that the animated sequences are going to take about half a year to complete, but luckily, the principal filming is wrapped up. I’m gunning for an August 2011 release because I want it to be shown on the day of the 66th Commemoration of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
What do you hope audiences will come away with after seeing the film?
For anyone who watches this film, I hope they will be able to connect to the stories of past generations and realize that they must always find it in their hearts to remain positive through times of adversity. Even after everything that has happened, Mrs. Suyeishi is able to accept and forgive the Americans for what they did to her hometown. To me, that just takes tremendous strength and resilience. What's your next step in the production process?
Soon, I’ll be heading off to New York to work on storyboarding with Choz Belen and his crew. We got a lot of work ahead of us!
How can people interested in donating to your cause contribute to the project?
We just launched a Kickstarter campaign, so we will be taking pledges until March! Anyone who is interested in being a part of this film can pledge any amount they’d like, and everyone who has pledged will be kept updated throughout our production process.
You can visit the Hibakusha Kickstarter page by clicking here.
I just want to say thank you to all of the supporters! Without your help, none of this would be possible!