On 18 October 2017, the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations partnered with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs to host a documentary film screening entitled Paper Lanterns as part of the First Committee side event series for the 72nd Session General Assembly.This film shares the story of 12 American prisoners of war killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the inspiring tale of a Japanese citizen, Mr. Mori, who refused to let them be forgotten. The movie delves into the human impact of the Hiroshima bombing in the hope that history does not repeat itself.
Mr. Nobushige Takamizawa, Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, introduced the film by noting that very few people know about the 12 American prisoners of war killed in the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. He also praised Mr. Shigeaki Mori, the main inspiration for the documentary, who spent over 35 years tracking down the stories of the American prisoners of war who died during the bombing.Japan is the only country ever to have experienced nuclear devastation during war. Mr. Takamizawa reiterated the need for a nuclear-weapon-free world and urged for cooperation between governments and civil society to address the issue.
Mr. John Ennis, Chief of the Information and Outreach Branch of the Office for Disarmament Affairs and moderator of a discussion about the film, said the documentary shows Mr. Mori as he reaches out to the families of the 12 deceased American prisoners of war, offering them closure and solace. To Mr. Ennis, the film illustrated passion, resilience and friendship, shedding light on the humanity of all of the individuals involved.
Barry Frechette, director of Paper Lanterns, said directing the film taught him that “the road to peace isn’t easy, but it starts with one step.” He wanted the film to show the loss that the atomic bomb caused for both Japan and the United States, and to let people see the bombing as a story about “ordinary people.”
Peter Grilli, producer of Paper Lanterns, believed the film to be an important contribution in spreading a message of peace and promoting the elimination of nuclear weapons. Mr. Grilli, who grew up in Japan, said he was surprised to discover how many people worldwide do not know or remember what happened in the summer of 1945.
Both Mr. Frechette and Mr. Grilli hoped the film would be redistributed in schools and universities so young people can learn about the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and work to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.
Listen or download an interview by UN Radio with the director and the producer of Paper Lanterns. http://bit.ly/2zSm4Uz
Text by Gillian Linden