Japan has a rainy season and typhoon season every year but this year’s has been pretty bad with record rainfall in July leading to widespread flooding and landslides in various areas of western Japan such as Okayama, Ehime, Hiroshima, and elsewhere. At least 140 are dead and others are missing. Millions of people have been have been ordered to evacuate and too many have lost their homes and access to utilities like electricity and water. With the weather calming down, the heat has returned so dangers are still present. People are now digging through mud and rubble to recover their communities and some are living in evacuation centres as the recovery efforts are underway with more than 70,000 rescue workers and lots of volunteers helping the relief effort.
You may be wondering what you can do. There is something.
Last month film Twitter started retweeting a link to something called Donation Theater, a fund-raising campaign handled by the CINEMA INFRASTRUCTURE ASSOCIATION OF JAPAN to support the victims of the “western Japan heavy rain disaster”. Essentially, you can use a Paypal account or bank transfer to donate some money to help people and then watch films, some of which have been made by people who come from these areas.
The idea is that a selection of directors are going to make their films available for people who donate to the site to stream for a limited duration of 30 days starting from mid-August. There are many donation tiers you can select starting at 1500 yen and going up to 100,000 yen. The money raised will be given to Peace Winds Japan to help with disaster relief. You get to help out and also get to watch films. Simple.
You can donate money to the site to get access to streams of short and feature films by around 43 directors such as:
Koji Fukada (Human Comedy in Tokyo)
Hana Matsumoto (A Midsummer Dream)
Akihiro Toda (Neko ni Mikan)
There are many more with some directors offering multiple films.
The process works like this: when you make the donation, whatever email you have connected to PayPal or the bank transfer will be how the organisers will contact you with details of how you get the films. What I will say is that I don’t know if there are any English-language subtitles with all of the works so it’s a judgement call you’ll have to make for yourself. If nothing else, donating a little money to help someone who may have lost a lot is doing something.
If you would like to donate money in another way then you can access some of the sites suggested by this Time Out article where they highlight organisations like the Japanese Red Cross which you can donate to.
Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Stay safe.