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Thorsten Trimpop wins Golden Dove grand prize at Leipzig Festival

CMS/W lecturer and Open Doc Lab fellow wins prestigious documentary filmmaking prize for "Furusato," chronicling effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
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Still from "Furusato" by director Thorsten Trimpop
Still from "Furusato" by director Thorsten Trimpop
Photo: Thorsten Trimpop / Büchner Filmproduktion

Director, MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing lecturer, and Open Documentary Lab fellow Thorsten Trimpop has been announced as the winner of a Golden Dove grand prize at the Leipzig Festival, one most prestigious awards in the world of documentary filmmaking, for his film "Furusato," chronicling the effects of Japan's nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

"Furusato" tells of the unusual relationship between a country and its inhabitants. For more than a thousand years, the overwhelming nature of the eastern coast of Japan has been deeply interwoven with people's lives. Here the earth is sacred, but now it is penetrated by an invisible danger. For those who have decided to stay anyway, the coastal landscape around the destroyed reactor of Fukushima Daiishi is their home — their "Furusato."

Trailer for "Furusato" from director and MIT lecturer Thorsten Trimpop

Trimpop's Golden Dove, given in the category of German Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film, comes with €10,000. In awarding the prize, its jury said about the film: "Although Germany has decided to phase out nuclear power, a nuclear power plant will still be built in Poland near the German border. Besides, Chernobyl has already irradiated a quarter of the world for centuries. The way how one of the world’s most important industrial nations handles the reactor catastrophe of Fukushima, how this nation is unable to cope with it until this very day, and how it continues to fail to come to terms with it day by day — all this has the director and his courageous team packed into an impressive documentary piece of cinematic art in an unsettling, disturbing, and highly complex way. Moreover, the film also shows how survivors cannot, or do not want to, leave their native area, with foreseeable consequences for their own health and that of future generations, and how this people — whether old or young — are being fed with hopes and lies and left to themselves. This film is an excellent example of a warning against an actually inconceivable sample of similarly inhuman, undemocratic, suicidal events on our planet, the only one we have."

MIT's Open Documentary Lab contributed to the final production, through screenings of and feedback on rough cuts, and Trimpop credits lab director and professor of comparative media studies William Uricchio as "a great source of support and commitment."

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