“Children of the Atomic Bomb” to be screened in New York

by Nobutaka Kushi, Senior Staff Writer

“Children of the Atomic Bomb,” a film by Hiroshima native Kaneto Shindo, will be shown in New York City starting April 22 to mark the director’s 99th birthday, which falls on the opening day of the event. This will be the first screening of the film for the American public, and attention will focus on the reaction to the film.

Actor Benicio del Toro, producer of the retrospective of Shindo’s work, has selected 10 films to be screened. Mr. Del Toro, 44, won the Best Actor Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of revolutionary Che Guevara. As the event’s opening film, “Children of the Atomic Bomb” will be shown during the retrospective’s first week along with “The Naked Island,” one of Mr. Shindo’s best known works. The films will be screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek.

Mr. Del Toro, who said he was deeply moved by “The Naked Island,” met with Mr. Shindo when he visited Japan last year in preparation for the event.

“Children of the Atomic Bomb” was produced independently by Mr. Shindo and others in 1952 with Kindai Eiga Kyokai Co., Ltd. The late Nobuko Otowa starred as a teacher who visits her students who survived the atomic bombing. Filming was facilitated by the cooperation of many citizens of Hiroshima.

The film was entered in the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, but diplomatic papers reveal that Japan's Foreign Ministry arranged for any awards to be declined in deference to the wishes of the United States.

The retrospective will continue through May 5. In addition to “Children of the Atomic Bomb” and “The Naked Island,” “Lucky Dragon No. 5,” “Mother,” featuring the late Haruko Sugimura, Shindo’s latest film “Postcard” and other works will be shown.

Jiro Shindo, 62, president of Kindai Eiga Kyokai, said, “Mr. Del Toro’s selections have been given high marks in the United States, and the first screening there of ‘Children of the Atomic Bomb’ is a very significant event.”

(Originally published on March 27, 2011)