Animated film about Sadako Sasaki, produced by Hiroshima NPO, wins film festival award

(by Sakiko Masuda, Staff Writer)

The English version of “Amai and Sadako’s Prayer,” an animated film which shares the story of Sadako Sasaki, has won first place in the animation category of the MY HERO International Film Festival, a film festival based in the United States. The film was produced by ANT-Hiroshima, an NPO in Naka Ward, and created by Fauzia Minallah, 56, a Pakistani artist.

In the film, which runs about eight minutes, the magical bird Amai flies around the world carrying two children on her back. The film conveys the story of Hiroshima’s devastation, and reconstruction, from the atomic bombing and how Sadako Sasaki eventually died of leukemia resulting from her exposure to the bomb’s radiation, despite folding paper cranes with the wish to restore her health. This story is linked to the plight of another girl, an Afghan refugee, and the film concludes with the wisdom that courage consists not in fighting wars but in working for a bright and peaceful future.

Tomoko Watanabe, 65, the executive director of ANT-Hiroshima, visited Pakistan in 2005 and first met Ms. Minallah there. The following year, they produced a picture book about Sadako Sasaki, titled Sadako’s Prayer, then based the animated film on the events of this book.

Last December, the film was awarded first place in the MY HERO International Film Festival, run by an organization in the United States. The director of the film festival, Wendy Milette, said in her comments: “This film brings new life to the important story of Sadako. I feel that Fauzia’s lovely animations will encourage young people to strive for peace.” Ms. Watanabe said that she would be very glad if the film can provide encouragement to children who are suffering from hardships.

Other language versions of the film are also being made, including Japanese, Urdu (spoken in Pakistan), and Dari and Pashtun (spoken in Afghanistan). Ms. Minallah hopes that viewers of the film will gain the message of hope, strength, and resilience from Sadako’s story.

(Originally published on February 4, 2019)