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Earthquakes on Film

Earthquakes on Film

When A City Falls

From 16 - 21 September, the Film Archive looks more closely at earthquakes. Films featuring the Japan, Christchurch, and Napier earthquakes will be shown.

Souls of Zen – Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan (2012)

12.15pm, Tuesday 17 September (includes Q&A with director Tim Graf) 7pm, Wednesday 18, Thursday 19 & Saturday 21 September Tickets $8 / $10

The documentary Souls of Zen – Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan presents perspectives on Buddhism as practiced by clergy, lay adherents, and families in Japan by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on the daily life of Buddhist temples, monastic education, prayer practice, mortuary rituals, and Japan’s tradition of ancestor veneration in the wake of 3/11.

From March to December 2011, Tim Graf and Jakob Montrasio filmed invaluable footage of the greatest religious mobilization in Japan’s postwar history. This film is the only documentary based on sustained attention to the everyday lives of Buddhist professionals in the disaster zone.

In an ethnographic journey from Tokyo to the hardest-hit prefectures (among other regions in Japan) Souls of Zen covers insights and opinions from scholars, clergy, and lay adherents with a focus on Soto Zen and Jodo Pure Land Buddhism. The film makers visited rural graveyards, urban temples, modern funeral halls, prayer monasteries, and public festivals to deliver a detailed account on Buddhism in the midst of Japan’s recovery from the triple disasters.

The unfamiliar institutional, doctrinal, and psychological challenges Buddhist clergy are facing in the wake of 3/11 form a focal point of the film. These challenges will be discussed in context of long-standing Buddhist traditions, ritual innovations, and religious responses to the March 11, 2011 disaster in Japan. The film intends to re-evaluate the complex role of Buddhism in a society struggling with the sudden impact of catastrophic disasters that exacerbate and otherwise alter continuing dilemmas occasioned by demographic change and religious pluralism.

When A City Falls (2011)
7pm Friday 20
4.30pm Saturday 21 September
Tickets $8 / $6

One man’s journey through disaster, recovery and discovery. When A City Falls (2011) travels way beyond earthquake reactive television footage to a tale of hope, an uplifting story that speaks of the kindness of human hearts.

2010 on the Canterbury Plains and all is well. Lambs, blue skies and daffodils. In Cathedral Square choir boys sing to their God. Punts push new season’s tourists along the Avon. They photograph the “Garden city”; the “most English city outside of England.” We get hit with a 7.1 earthquake. We stand up, wave our fists at the heavens and compliment ourselves on our ability to recover. And then we get hit even harder. Now the city has fallen. Many are dead. Many injured. Many narrowly escape.

A fragile people reappear in the following days. We have learnt from the first earthquake and once again a response is growing. Once again adrenaline is taking over. Now the whole country is rallying for Christchurch. It’s the energy of the people that’s unprecedented. Communities are rising from the sand. People are holding tight to each other.

A year later and the quakes keep rolling. Now the Canterbury earthquakes are the most ever quakes recorded in a series. And we’re still counting....

When A City Falls sees New Zealanders in our darkest days. How do we respond? Who do we become? We discover something wonderful about ourselves. We discover we are a functional people, concerned and caring for our neighbours, our fellow Kiwis.

Directed by Gerard Smyth, the film’s production was an extraordinary team effort. The days after the second earthquake were not an obvious time to come together to continue making a film. Researcher Rhys died in the CTV building collapse. Producer Alice had lost her house. Editor Richard was grieving the loss of 16 work mates in the CTV building. Director Gerard’s mum and sister had both lost their homes.

Film making craft support came from expat Cantabrians. Cinematographer Jake Bryant (The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins [2008]) turned up with his camera. Christchurch and the wider Canterbury Plains look stunning - albeit so often with the cruel beauty afforded by the earthquake. An original soundtrack was composed by Tiki Taane, Aaron Tokona and Richard Nunns. Park Road Post also came on board offering the project the highest quality distributions formats.

“A magnificent chronicle. Should be watched in 50 years from now.” - David Larson, The Listener.

The Newest City on the Globe (1985)

This 30 minute documentary will screen on a loop in the Film Archive TV Room from September 16 - 21, in conjunction with the screenings of Souls of Zen and When A City Falls. Made by Peter Wells and Stewart Mains, the filme examines the architecture of Napier, featuring archival footage of the Napier Earthquake and the city’s reconstruction in art deco style. Admission to the TV Room is FREE.

All Earthquakes on Film screenings will take place at the Film Archive, 84 Taranaki St, Wellington. When A City Falls (2011)


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